After months of speculation and rumour, Sony has finally unveiled its latest wireless noise-cancelling headphones, the WH-1000XM4 – and our review of them is already live!
The premium over-ears replace the five-star WH-1000XM3s and sport a slew of tasty upgrades including a tweaked design, souped-up audio chip, improved call quality and the ability to pair with two devices at the same time.
The WH-1000XM4s have a tough act to follow; their much-loved predecessors, the WH-1000XM3s, picked up back-to-back What HiFi Awards and currently top our list of best wireless headphones. So, what do we have to look forward to from the XM4s?
They might look almost identical to the XM3s but the XM4s are actually a touch lighter and boast Sony's latest DSEE Extreme audio processor with Edge-AI, which claims to upscale compressed audio files in real-time, to near hi-res quality.
Developed with Sony Music Studios Tokyo, Edge-AI can apparently recognise individual instruments and – as Sony puts it – restore "compressed music files like MP3 to near Hi-Res quality." (The XM3s also upscale audio, but without the AI element).
Another big new feature is 'multipoint connection' which allows you to pair the XM4s with two Bluetooth devices at the same time. It should make switching from a smartphone to a laptop a more seamless experience. Lost your cans? The XM4s support Google's nifty Fast Pair feature, meaning you can locate the headphones by ringing them.
Speak-to-chat is new, too. It lets you talk to a friend or order a coffee without having to remove your headphones. Just start talking and the XM4s will recognise you're speaking, pause the music and allow in ambient noise. The tech automatically cranks the music back up after you're done chatting for 15 or 30 seconds.
Sony's also tailored the high-end cans to a better job handling phone calls. New 'Precise Voice Pickup technology' sees a combination of five microphones and Sony's clever processing chip deliver clearer speech during calls and virtual cocktail hours.
Like the stellar XM3s, the XM4s use Sony's (superb) noise cancelling with Adaptive Sound Control, which adjusts the intensity of noise cancelling to suit the ambient noise whatever the location. However, the system's a bit more intelligent and learns to recognise the locations you visit most frequently, such as your office or the gym, in an effort to optimise performance.
Battery life remains around 30 hours, while the quick-charging feature should return five hours of playback from a 10 minute charge. To preserve battery life, the XM4s can now detect when you remove them and will pause your music accordingly.
Are the XM4s simply a case of 'evolution rather than revolution'? Head on over to our in-depth Sony WH-1000XM4 review to find out.
The XM4s are available in black and silver, priced at £350 ($350, AU$380).