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Sony WH-1000XM4 − Everything you need to know about the over-ears

It would seem we won’t have to wait long for the Sony WH-1000XM4 with everything pointing towards an announcement in early August.

Despite Sony’s reputation for making excellent noise-cancelling headphones, the road to the WH-1000XM4 has been pretty leaky to say the least.

Since December 2019 we’ve seen everything from premature listings on retail websites around the world, an FCC listing and a video of the headphones – either Sony hasn’t noticed or aren’t particularly bothered by – that reviews what appears to be the WH-1000XM4 and the app.

The latest news comes directly from Sony. with Sony Brazil teased an Instagram story for a pair of headphones with a caption that roughly translates as the future of audio is here. Sony Japan has also got in on all the teasing teased a page, with a press announcement thought to be scheduled for the first week of August.

It looks like the wait is almost over. Here’s everything you need to know about the Sony WH-1000XM4.

Related: Best noise-cancelling headphones

When will the Sony WH-1000XM4 be released?

All signs point to an early August announcement for the Sony WH-1000XM4. Sony Japan has published a page on its site with a date of August 7th. Since that’d be early in the morning UK time, some speculate it the announcement could come earlier. Once announced the release will likely roll out through to September.

The online community was first tipped off to an announcement via Instagram story from Sony Brazil which teased a pair of headphones. The tagline, roughly translated, was the future of audio is here.

Not long after was Sony Japan putting up a page with the date of Friday the 7th of August, 9am and the words “Wait 4 something exciting”. We’ll eat our hats, and whatever else we can fit into our mouths, if that’s not a reference to the WH-1000XM4.

We had thought IFA might be the place for an unveiling, but it looks like Sony is not attending this year, what with 2020 being the year that it’s been.

The long road to the XM4’s announced started in December 2019 with an FCC listing in under the XM4 name. That led to rumours they could be unveiled at CES 2020, but the headphones did not show up.

Online leaks followed in late May and early June and all proved to be a false dawn.

Official documents from Sony Belgium/Netherlands confirmed trials for this summer. The document, titled ‘SBNL AUDIO Trial Models Summer’, had the XM4 listed on it. It looks like those trials are over.

How much will the Sony WH-1000XM4 cost?

The MDR-1000X, WH-1000XM2 and WH-1000XM3 had a £349 price. Nothing we’ve seen suggests the new over-ears will be any different.

Quandt’s tweet is corroborated by previous online listings with Best Buy US uploading a product listing with a $349.99 price. Dell Canada jumped the gun with a $449.99 CAD listing before raising it to $499.99 CAD.

The headphones also appeared on Walmart US, Polish retailer X-kom and Czech Republic online retailer elvia pro. And rather unanimously, the WH-1000XM4’s price is in in line with its predecessors.

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Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony WH-1000XM3

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Related: Best wireless headphones

What design and features will the Sony XM4 have?

Taken from the various leaks, the WH-1000XM4’s design appears to be evolution rather revolution.

Everton Favretto first spotted them on an Anatel listing, which is Brazil’s FCC. You could almost mistake them for being another pair of WH-1000XM3. The colour scheme is similar, as are the physical buttons and the profile is the same. Perhaps it’s just our eyes, but the ear pads do appear to be bigger. From the looks of this video, the headband has a few slight aesthetic changes, and appears to be a bit bendier for improved comfort and fit.

The Anatel listing came with an unfinished instruction manual. It indicates improvements in the headphones’ specification.

The headphones can connect to two devices at once with the Multi-point feature. You can switch from one device to another without disconnecting. Edge AI is a feature co-developed with Sony Music, and allows the DSEE Extreme engine to upscale digital tracks in real time, recognising the instrumentation, genre and aspects of the track and filling in the data lost through compression.

Speak to Chat appears to detect when you’re speaking and pause music, resuming once you’ve done talking thirty seconds later. There’s new Precise Voice Pickup feature, which uses the five built-in microphones to pick up your voice in a clear and precise manner for hands-free calls.

A promo video leaked (shot around London it seems), which confirmed several of the features, including the ability to have specific settings for registered locations. The headphones (presumably through the Headphone app), will know where you are, and automatically switch to settings you’ve plugged in for that location. Nifty.

There’s a new Custom button, presumably for voice assistant support (Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are supported). Battery life appears to be same as previous versions, with up to 30 hours. If used passively (i.e. with cables) with ANC at max levels, there’s a modest improvement from 36 hours to 40. A quick 10 minute charge offering up to five hours of playtime. Bluetooth will be 5.0, and power consumption will be less, down from 8W to 2W.

Keep a keen eye on the first week of August. It’s looking likely we’ll be hearing plenty more about the WH-1000XM4 if recent news and leaks are true.

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