Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sony’s new headphones have improved features

Sony has just announced the long-awaited followup to its popular WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones. The brand new WH-1000XM4 headphones look exactly the same, but feature improved noise cancellation and, finally, the option to simultaneously pair with two devices at once over Bluetooth.

The 1000XM4s use the same Q1N processor for noise cancellation, but Sony says it has added a new Bluetooth audio system on a chip that analyzes music and surrounding ambient noise 700 times per second. Combined with a tweaked algorithm, this makes the 1000XM4s better at hushing voices and mid-frequency everyday ambient sound.

In terms of audio quality, the 1000XM4s should sound identical to their predecessors. They use 40mm drivers just like the M3s, and Sony isn’t making any claims about improved sound output. The upscaling feature of the headphones has been improved using AI, however. Battery life is still the same, topping out at up to 30 hours of continuous playback, and all the controls and buttons are unchanged from the M3s.

Sony seems to have fixed the mediocre voice call quality of the M3s with these new headphones. The company has added “new Precise Voice Pickup technology, which controls five microphones in the headphones optimally, and performs advanced audio signal processing to pick up voice clearly and precisely.” Hopefully that’ll make the 1000XM4s a better option for all of your video chats and voice calls. There’s also an (optional) new “Speak to Chat” feature that will temporarily pause your music as soon as you start talking and resume after you’ve finished a conversation.

Multipoint support is the other big new thing. Sony’s noise-canceling headphones are finally joining the competition by adding the ability to simultaneously pair with two devices at once. Sony says that customers will need to install a firmware update for the best multipoint performance, so just keep that in mind if you end up buying a set.

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