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Sony WH-1000XM4 − What to expect from the wireless over-ears

Numerous leaks indicate that Sony is prepping a brand new pair of noise-cancelling headphones likely to be called WH-1000XM4.

With the number of leaks so far, it seems certain we’ll be seeing the latest headphones in Sony’s well-regarded noise-cancelling range sometime this year.

So far we’ve seen images of what is purported to be the newest version, a draft instruction manual and listings on retailers in both the US and Europe.

So, what can you expect from Sony’s noise-cancelling over-ears?

Related: Best noise-cancelling headphones

When will the Sony WH-1000XM4 be released?

The Sony WH-1000XM3 have been out for nearly two years, and Sony tends to update its 1000X series every couple of years.

The first notable leak was an FCC listing in December 2019 under the XM4 name, as reported by The Verge. There was speculation they could be unveiled at CES 2020, but the show passed with no announcement.

More likely the stage for the XM4 wireless headphones reveal will be IFA in September. Sony has announced previous versions at the Berlin-based event, so it would make sense to keep up tradition. IFA 2020 is still going ahead, albeit in a new format in line with coronavirus advice. If the headphones are going to be announced anywhere, we’d put money on IFA.

Other leaked info implies a late August/early September reveal to be quite likely. Spotted on an official document from Sony Belgium/Netherlands (whoops), the document is titled ‘SBNL AUDIO Trial Models Summer’ and listed on the document are the XM4. We assume they’ll undergo some testing ahead of the official launch.

How much will the Sony WH-1000XM4 cost?

Previous versions of the headphones – that’s the MDR-1000X, WH-1000XM2 and WH-1000XM3 – have had a price of £349. There’s little to suggest the new over-ears will be any different.

That’s further corroborated by Best Buy US uploading a sales listing with a price of $349.99, as found by The Walkman Blog.

The headphones have also appeared and been removed from Walmart US, Polish retailer X-kom and Czech Republic online retailer elvia pro. All sites indicated the WH-1000XM4 would be priced in line with its predecessors.

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Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony WH-1000XM3

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Related: Best wireless headphones

What features will the Sony WH-1000XM4 have?

From the various leaks, the WH-1000XM4’s design appears to be evolution rather revolution. That’s not wholly surprising given Sony likely won’t want to drastically change a winning formula.

Everton Favretto spotted them on an Anatel listing – Brazil’s version of the FCC – and subsequently posted images. You could almost mistake them for being another pair of WH-1000XM3. The colour scheme is similar, the physical connections remain and the profile is the same.

The Anatel listing came with an instruction manual as well. While the manual is unfinished, the info in it indicates the headphones’ specification has been improved. Battery life is up from 36 hours to 40 when used passively (i.e. with the headphone cable) and ANC is at max levels. Bluetooth will be the 5.0 spec, and savings appear to have been made in power consumption, down from 8W to 2W.

There’s also a new feature, referred to as “speak to chat”. It’s likely a reference to voice assistants which might suggest hands-free control. Currently, Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are activated by a touch of a button, so perhaps this features removes the need for a physical button at all.

Other changes include a new Custom button, presumably for setting ANC levels. And perhaps it’s just our eyes, but the ear cushions do appear to be bigger. Considering how comfortable the XM3 were, more of this would not go amiss.

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