Sony WH-1000XM4 review: are Sony’s flagship headphones still the best around?

WE get hands on with our Sony WH-1000XM4 review to see if they’ll stand up against their award-winning predecessors. 

Worth the money or a waste of cash? Find out below.



  • Comfortable 
  • Great sound
  • Long battery life


  • Expensive

Sony WH-1000XM4 review: Quick Summary

  • Sony WH-1000XM4, £278.63 at Amazon – buy here

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones pick up where the WH-1000XM3s left off. They’re among the best over-ear, noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones we’ve tested and they tick pretty much every box we have.

Sound? Excellent. Comfort? Top of the class. Accessibility? More of the same.

If you are looking for potential gripes, you could point to a lack of flair in the design, but if you’re looking for substance over style, the WH-1000XM4s deliver. Besides, we quite like the muted design as opposed to the slightly more flashy looks of Beats or Bowers and Wilkins.

If you’ve got the budget for these headphones, buying them is an easy choice.


Sony WH-1000XM4: Full review

  • Sony WH-1000XM4, £278.63 at Amazon – buy here

The Sony WH-1000XM4’s biggest enemy might be its predecessor, the WH-1000XM3. The old model was so good that it was going to take some beating. However it seems to us that Sony has pulled off the feat in impressive fashion.

Not only do these cans take all of what worked so well for the previous model, they’ve built on rock solid foundations to improve the audio quality and added some new features too.

The WH-1000XM3s were no slouches when it came to sound quality, but the WH-1000XM4s have improved on the old model and boast plenty of clever tech that is designed to take your digitally compressed tunes and make them sound closer to the original recording.

They’ve also got a lot of range, nailing deep bass lines along with more treble-heavy offerings and can quickly differentiate between the two, avoiding any of the muddyness you get with lesser headphones.

All this to say the WH-1000XM4s sound really, really good. We’ve got plenty of headphones and speakers lying around the place and the Sonys knock them all out of the water for sound quality and overall listening experience.

In terms of noise cancelling these headphones are masters of the genre; the over-ear design allows them to completely cocoon you from exterior noise and are a dream for commuting.

The WH-1000XM4s can last the distance too with their 30 hours of battery life (although that’s with some of the features such as noise cancelling turned off). And Sony reckon you’ll get up to five hours listening time off just 10 minutes of charging, which is not to be sniffed at. 

You can (and we did) wear these headphones for extended periods. The design manages to feel secure without the aggressive ear compression that seems to plague cheaper over-ear headphones. The comfort is helped by the materials used in construction which have a genuinely futuristic feel, managing to be both robust, lightweight and comfortable.

In terms of accessibility and features, we like the Sonys’ swipe control system that allows you to skip tracks, accept calls, access Google assistant and much more. 

As you’d expect from a set of headphones like this, the WH-1000XM4s automatically pause your music when you take them off and resume playing once you restore them to your head. But Sony has gone to the trouble of adding a feature where if you cover one of the cups on your head, your music volume is automatically decreased so you can hear what’s going on around you. In practice, it’s a good way of getting strange looks from your barista/local shop assistant. The same could be said for the feature that pauses your music and turns on the exterior mics when you start talking, allowing you to hold a conversation. For our money it’d be a bit weird to speak to someone without taking your headphones off, but each to their own.

Sony WH-1000XM4s: The verdict

  • Sony WH-1000XM4, £278.63 at Amazon – buy here

If you take price into account, we don’t think there’s a better pair of over the ear Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones on the market. Apple’s Airpod Maxs (read our Apple Airpod Max review here) provide a richer sound but they’re nearly double the price and you’ll need an iPhone to get the most out of their features.

Meanwhile the Sony WH-1000XM4s will play nice with all your devices and aside from a lack of waterproof/resistant IPX rating, there’s not much they won’t excel at.

Looking for some more headphones? Check out our Marshall Mode II headphones review.

We’ve also reviewed the Sol Amp Airs.

And here’s our Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless review.

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