OPINION: There have been many very good wireless earbuds in 2021, and there have been few truly great ones such as the Sony WF-1000XM4.
While Sony wasn’t there at the start of the true wireless era (that would be Onkyo W800BT) and it wasn’t the one that popularised it (that would be the Apple Airpods), it’s arguably done more than any other brand to elevate its status.
The original WF-1000X had issues, but it made sound the focus where other brands were still getting to grips with the potential of true wireless. The WF-1000XM3 (there were no WF-1000XM2) were the first that melded excellent sound, wireless connectivity and active noise cancellation.
And with the WF-1000XM4, Sony has taken the true wireless to even greater heights. The new design has made them more comfortable to wear, and while the noise cancellation isn’t quite class-leading (that would be the Bose Quiet Comfort earbuds), they’re not far off. The sense of calm wearing them is terrific. Vehicles of any size are nullified, the bug bear of wind noise is reduced, and sounds often evaporate into the ether, letting you get on with the business of listening to your music.
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And what a terrific listen they offer. No true wireless sounds as good as this model does. It’s similar to the previous generation in terms of its characteristics, producing a balanced and musical presentation that works across a vast range of genres.
They’re wonderfully eloquent and articulate, voices presented with great emotion, getting to the heart of what’s being expressed. Bass is big, taut and punchy, songs are supplied with plenty of energy, the mid-range naturally conveyed and high-frequencies sharply done. Everything sounds exactly as it should.
And the feature set is extensive. Voice assistant support, Sony’s 360 Reality Audio spatial format, better battery life, IPX4 water resistance, ambient mode, Speak to Chat and more. These earbuds are ambitious, and they exceed already lofty expectations. They’ve been discounted ahead of Christmas, so if you want a true wireless this year, make sure it’s the WF-1000XM4.