SONY WF-1000XM4 Photograph:( Twitter )
The new Sony earbuds may come with a complex name but the features leave us impressed and how!
Before I begin talking about the new product that I have been using for the last two weeks, here's a confession. I love my AirPods. I am so accustomed to them that I don't even realise when I wear them to work, to the washroom, sometimes while watching the TV and even during serious conversations. They have become a habit.
So, can a new set of in-ears make me ditch my AirPods? Let it be said that I don't use the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro, so this may be an unfair comparison. But even so, the new Sony WF-1000XM4 is slowly, steadily motivating me to make the switch.
|Price: Rs 19,990|
Battery life: 5.5 hours with ANC
|Waterproof rating: IPX4|
|App: Sony Headphones Connect|
Lo and behold, the new noise-cancelling earbuds from Sony with yet another complicated name. Sony, it's 2022, it's time to revamp your nomenclature for your superior gadgets! For the purpose of this review, we'll just call them then new Sony earbuds.
The pricing is quite competitive for the segment at Rs 19,990. Right at the onset, pair them with the Sony Headphones Connect app which will guide you on how to set up your new earbuds.
The new Sony earbuds look sleek and stylish and are lighter than previous iterations. The grey colour with dull gold accents makes them look elegant and are light enough to carry anywhere. If you're an AirPods user, you may feel a bit overwhelmed about the size of the Sony earbuds which is why getting the right fit into your ear is essential to enjoy the sound quality. It may take you a few minutes to get accustomed to the new earbuds but once you do, you won't have to worry about losing an earbud. They are smaller and lighter and pretty comfortable once fitted in. You also get an extra pair of seals in the box which is quite useful.
I paired the Sony earbuds with my iPhone and was setting myself up for disappointment since I knew I'd be missing out on quite a few features. For one, only Android phones can make use of Sony's use of the LDAC codec to transmit music wirelessly. Confused? LDAC is Sony's proprietary audio technology which allows you to enjoy high-quality wireless audio via Bluetooth. So, Apple users who invest in the new Sony earbuds will miss out on this feature.
Having said that, the new processor called V1 provides crystal-clear audio. Consuming content solely on my phone is something I am guilty of and whether it was an action film, a melodrama or documentary, the Sony earbuds made consuming content a delight. The noise-cancelling works so well that my husband was seen flailing his arms desperately to catch my attention as I drowned out the world while watching a new Netflix documentary!
Don't get me wrong, the noise cancellation is not so overwhelming that you feel you're sitting in a bubble. Here's a suggestion, turn on the ANC if you're in public and don't want to hear the noise and humdrum of daily life; turn it off in the office unless you want your co-workers to have to yell for attention.
A word of praise for the Speak-to-Chat feature which lets you have conversations with earbuds in. What this means is that if someone wants to talk to you while you're immersed in your favourite tunes, the earbuds pause the music without any prompt and you can continue talking. This feature is quite intuitive and worked well 6 out of 10 times for me which isn't bad at all.
There's also something called "Adaptive Sound Control", a feature which will keep popping up on the Headphones Connect app. The new Sony earbuds can adapt to the environment of the listener for an "ideal listening experience". As I shuttled from home to office, there were noticeable changes in the sound quality and while they were not much of value addition, there's some great software innovation here.
I also travelled to the hills with these earbuds and boy, oh boy, there's something so liberating about listening to Prateek Kuhad's melodies on the Sony earbuds with the ANC turned on, watching the hills and valleys roll by. I won't lie, the Sony earbuds performed better than my AirPods. The fit gets more comfortable over time and listening for long hours feels like a breeze.
But how long is long enough?
Sony claims the new earbuds will offer you uninterrupted 32 hours of listening WITH noise-cancellation activated. Now that's one big claim. And Sony wins big on this front. If battery life is a deal-clincher for you, then these are the best ANC earbuds in the market. You get nearly 5.5 hours of charge with ANC after which you can click them back into the sleek charging case for a whopping 20 hours of listening. At this price point, it beats the competition and Sony deserves applause for that.
WORTH THE PRICE TAG?
They say audio quality is subjective. What sounds great to me may sound mediocre to you. But even then, the new Sony earbuds leave little room for complaint. The sound quality is superior and gives the AirPods stiff competition. The comfort fit, stellar battery life and added features nearly justify the price tag of Rs 19,990. As always, it all trickles down to the age-old Apple versus Android debate. Apple loyalists may still lean towards the AirPods Pro but if they give the Sony WF-1000XM4 a listen, even they may be convinced to make the switch!