Good music sounds great when it comes through the spectacular WH-1000XM4 headphones.

By Nina Huang
April 22, 2021 at 04:51 PM EDT
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Sony headphones
Credit: Sony

Rarely does something that claims to be flawless actually turn out that way. But that's the case with Sony's newest addition to its illustrious WH-1000XM headphones line, long revered across the industry for its stellar sound quality and comfort. Its newest WH-1000XM4 headphones, launched last August, promised the "best-ever noise-canceling performance" and "next-level music," and that's exactly what they deliver.

The XM4s build upon and improve the already fantastic features from the XM3 and XM2 headphones. From comfort and ease of use to music quality that will satisfy both amateurs and professionals, the WH-1000XM4 is a stellar pair of headphones for both working from home and being on the go.

Credit: Sony

Buy it! Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones in Black, $348; amazon.com

Its biggest selling point, of course, is sound. The XM4 headphones incorporate Sony's Unique Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing and Personal Noise Cancellation Optimizer technologies to analyze personal features like the size of your head (yes, that matters), your hair length, and whether you wear glasses to optimize its delivery. You'll even have to submit a picture of your ears via the accompanying app to complete your 360 Reality Audio setup, which the headphones use to entirely immerse you in the music. Additionally, its trademarked LDAC technology transmits about three times more data wirelessly than conventional Bluetooth, with a maximum transfer rate of 990 kbps.

To prove how that translates to unbelievable high-res sound, Sony is offering a three-month trial to Hi-Fi music streaming services, including Tidal and Deezer, if you buy the XM4s before the end of the year. And listening to Hi-Fi music on these Sony headphones truly is almost as good as being in a theater — "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac feels like a rollercoaster (and not just of emotions); the Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" is clear and precise, not dissolving into the flood of synthesizer that lesser headphones would push out; and only more layers of Phoebe Bridgers' "Punisher" single are unveiled through the XM4.

Plus, Sony's impressive noise cancellation eliminates all distractions. It's truly impossible to hear anything apart from whatever you're playing while in noise-cancellation mode, but if you do have to occasionally break the barrier, the "Speak-to-Chat" functionality will briefly pause noise cancellation for you to have a quick conversation once it detects your voice. A second mode, Ambient Sound Control, balances background noise to allow you to hear both your content and your surroundings.

Equalizer and atmosphere pressure are both adjustable via the headphones' smartphone app, which even allows you to pair to two devices simultaneously — something that wasn't possible with past models. It makes switching between audio sources (laptop versus phone and vice versa) a no-brainer. The control touchpad on the right ear cup is intuitive and has just the right amount of sensitivity, so you won't risk unintentionally skipping or stopping a track if you brush against it.

The exceptional sound quality makes the headphones worth every penny of its $348 price tag, and its extra bells and whistles only add to their value. The WH-1000XM lineup is already the best on the market, and the XM4 is nothing short of Sony's victory lap. A

Credit: Sony

Buy it! Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones in Black, $348; amazon.com

Credit: Sony

Buy it! Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones in Silver, $348; amazon.com

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