Sony WH‑1000XM4 headphones review

OK, so, story time. A few years ago, never mind how many precisely, I spent about 3 weeks worth of my spending money on a pair of headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM2. Previously, I’d been using the Sony MDR-1000, which were the best headphones I’d ever used.

The WHs blew them out of the water. Now, I’ve been trying out their descendants, the WH-1000XM4. And while the difference isn’t mind-blowing, it’s hard to improve on damn-near perfection, right?

Sounds 4-nomenal

Sound quality is still phenomenal. I never had an issue with my older pair, so it was zero surprise to find that the highs and lows still came through, well, high and low. Maybe they’re a little bass-heavy, but hey, that’s not the end of the world. Or maybe it is, who even knows with 2020. I always assumed the end of the world would involve more locusts.

The MX4s need a little breaking in when it comes to comfort; mine were quite stiff right out of the box. But after about a week, they were up there with the best things to ever sit on my head. Which leads me nicely into saying that, in my week of softening them up, I never had to charge. I listened to (approximately) 30 hours of podcasts and music over that week, and after 6 days they finally suggested I charge them at some point in the distant future.

If, like little old immigrant me, you used to travel extended distances pre-coronapocalypse, the WH-1000XM4 would have been your dream companion on those long transhemispheric flights.

Power 4 Days

We’ve also got the quick charge capability (about 3 hours for the full thing, or a couple of hours after ten minutes). Basically, you’ve got a good long while before worrying about an outlet. And hey, USB-C; my Kindle is now the final holdout for everyday micro-USB.


The noise cancelling is also incredible; with no music it softens everything right down, and even on low volume the headphones are all you can hear. Perfect for everything from open-plan office to a construction site (in theory, please pay attention on construction sites so Worksafe don’t come for me in the night).

Working 4 you

There were some odd connectivity issues I experienced that MAY have been caused by my devices rather than the headset. First, when reconnecting to my phone after a day of work, they inexplicably defaulted to whatever volume they were at before turning off, regardless of my manually turning volume down before playback.

What this means is, since I tend to ramp up the volume as I rock down the Wellington streets, I was immediately blasted in the ears by pirate metal or the Hades soundtrack until the devices realised I wasn’t on a rocket launching pad and calmed down.

Again, this may have been a latency issue with my devices rather than the headphones, but worth keeping in mind.

Pearls B4, well, me

Automatically pausing when taking them off is a great idea, but apparently my neck looks like my ears so they would arbitrarily start playing again if they got too close to my throat. Again, in no way a dealbreaker, but I got some startled looks in a bookshop when suddenly Vikings are singing about mead and six-legged horses.

I really like Brothers of Metal, y’all.

Not very a-4-dable

Honestly the only thing holding me back from a glowing recommendation is the price. Remember how I said I spent an entire paycheck (after rent and stuff) on my last pair? Well, these ones top it.

And yeah, they’re phenomenal, but for this amount of moolah you’d expect them to be. Certainly they’re the best I’ve used, and I doubt you’ll do better for the price, but still, they’re over $400. That’s not walking around money.

The SONY WH-1000XM4 are the headphones of the year. If you can justify the cost, you will not regret it. Just maybe turn the volume down before you take em off, just in case.

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