‘Big catch’ with cult headphones
Recently, Sony released the WH-1000XM4 wireless noise cancelling headphones. Their predecessor, the WH-1000XM3, have a cult following for their noise cancellation performance, comfort and fancy features, which begs the question, should you buy the new 1000XM4s?
First of all, features I loved from the 1000XM3 remain on the new model. This includes touch gesture controls on the outside surface of the right ear cup. When listening, you can swipe to control volume, skip tracks and play/pause.
There's also 'quick attention mode' where if you cover the right ear cup with your hand, the playback volume decreases and the outside sounds amplify so you can hear everything around you.
This was especially great back when air travel was a thing, when the flight attendant appeared you didn't need to fumble with your device or remove your headphones to have a conversation. Nowadays, this is just as practical at home or in the office when someone turns to ask you a question.
While all of this is pretty cool, Sony has upped the ante adding some new, yet similar, features. 'Speak to Chat' is a new feature that can be enabled by downloading Sony's 'Headphones Connect app'. In addition to using the previous feature of covering the ear cup, if you start speaking the headphones will pause what's playing and let in the outside world so you can have a conversation.
For those who love to sing along to music, don't worry, this feature can be switched off. Also, if you remove your headphones, whatever you're playing will pause and then resume right where you left off when you put them back on.
BATTERY LIFE AND CHARGING
As these are Bluetooth wireless headphones you'll need to charge them up to access all these fancy features. Luckily, the battery life on these are pretty good, lasting up to 30 hours (with Noise Cancelling on). Though the battery life remains unchanged from the previous model, there is the bonus of 'quick charge' where only 10 minutes charging time will give you up to 5 hours of playback.
THE BIG CATCH
All in all they're pretty nifty, but there is one big catch. The price. These retail for $549 in Australia, which is a hefty price tag for headphones, so you must be thinking, "they better sound good!" With these headphones I've heard nuances in music that I never even knew existed. In fact, can you describe audio as stunning? Because that's how I'd describe it. Stunning.
Opposite to Sony's great sound output, this model has improved the sound input so when you take calls using these headphones people can hear you loud and clear through the in-built microphone. Previously, it had been said this was where the 1000XM3 performance was lacking. Thank goodness for the change because these headphones have become imperative to my survival while working from home.
According to Sony, the 1000XM4 have industry-leading noise cancellation, and while I can't personally confirm this fact, I will say the noise cancellation is ridiculously good.
I'll save the complex jargon on how their technology works and just say, if you need to focus on your work and block everything out - and by everything I mean, "the neighbours have decided it's the perfect time to do the renos"- these might just be the right headphones for you.
Originally published as 'Big catch' with cult headphones