Check out every corner of the WF-1000XM4. Finally ready to battle AirPods Pro (Muneka Nishida) – Engadget Japanese Version

WF-1000XM4

Although it was a bit late for the release, I was able to get my hands on the Sony “WF-1000XM4” wireless earbuds (hereafter XM4). There may be a large number of articles about to appear and it looks like “all is well”,Editor-in-chief of this magazine, ACCNI would like to write a review to answer the request “by all means”.

This product is so much fun.

A fresh pack of clean “paper”

Speaking of XM4 competitors, I think it’s the same Sony “WF-1000XM3” (hereafter, XM3) and Apple’s “AirPods Pro”. This time, I would like to compare these three products.

What is the biggest advantage of XM4?

It is a package.

▲ WF-1000XM4 Package.I feel it is very simple but beautiful

▲ WF-1000XM4 Package.I feel it is very simple but beautiful

…… And when I write it like this, I will probably receive a sum of tsukumi saying “hello.” Well, the “maximum” is an exaggeration.

However, there is no doubt that the first thing that impresses me is the “change in texture, including packaging”.

After all, the XM4 package itself is close to the size of the XM3 itself. Well, that meant that the XM3’s cargo box was pretty big, but at the same time the XM4’s main chassis has been downsized, the package has also been boldly downsized.

▲ The main unit is XM3 and the XM4 package. From the comparison between these two, it can be seen that the XM4 package has been downsized.

▲ The main unit is XM3 and the XM4 package. From the comparison between these two, it can be seen that the XM4 package has been downsized.

I really like this seemingly simple package. Even the warranty card is sandwiched between the bands that encase the body. Probably because the main body case is wrapped with a belt and put the warranty card in it “because” only this part can be changed per country”. Good idea. The protective cover of the main body is also made of paper.

The warranty card is simply placed between the outer paper bands.

The warranty card is simply placed between the outer paper bands.

▲ Even if you open the package, there is only paper material inside.

▲ Even if you open the package, there is only paper material inside.

The paper that protects the main body is also made of paper.

The paper that protects the main body is also made of paper.

I don’t praise “resin reduction is a good thing”. This is important, but the good thing is that we boldly used paper to create a good looking compact package. There seems to be an argument that beauty and comfort should not be lost by saying they are SDGs. I like that idea.

Contents other than the main body.Very neat and fits in a paper package

Contents other than the main body.Very neat and fits in a paper package

Thinking calmly in the first place, the author seems to be tired of the “white square”. This is clearly unforgettable. To be honest, I have little memory for the XM3 package. I remember it was a box…Of course, it might be easy to get lonely and tired of that kind, but there seems to be plenty of room for creativity, such as coloring with soy ink, which has a low environmental impact, or changing the pattern.

An unfortunate thing is that even if you keep the package, if you remove the tape containing the perimeter (also made of paper), the package cannot be sealed as a “box”. There are different sized earphones in the bottom box so I like to keep them as is, but the top box is hard to connect. I wanted the top box to fit if possible. This may mean that only the one with the earpiece should be removed.

▲Earphone included.The top box cannot be repaired by removing the tape that stops the surroundings, so if you want to save it, you just have to remove the paper package containing the earphone and save.

▲Earphone included.The top box cannot be repaired by removing the tape that stops the surroundings, so if you want to save it, you just have to remove the paper package containing the earphone and save.

It’s small and fits well in your ears

The chest is smaller, but the body is also smaller. Or rather, the XM3 was just too big. The impression is that it is finally large enough to compete with AirPods Pro.

▲ Compare AirPods Pro (top left), XM3 (right), XM4 (bottom left). The case size has changed a lot.

▲ Compare AirPods Pro (top left), XM3 (right), XM4 (bottom left). The case size has changed a lot.

What’s better than AirPods Pro is that the case is self-supporting. Well, the XM4’s case is still a bit big, so it’s normal to “stand up”. However, it doesn’t roll around on the desk, so it’s easy to charge and use.

▲ XM4 case and its contents. Compact and simple

▲ XM4 case and its contents. Compact and simple

▲ XM3 status. Not independent / big, no good points

▲ XM3 status. Not independent / big, no good points

▲ AirPods Pro case.  It's even smaller than the XM4, but it doesn't stand alone, so it's surprisingly easy to slip off a desk.

▲ AirPods Pro case. It’s even smaller than the XM4, but it doesn’t stand alone, so it’s surprisingly easy to slip off a desk.

The volume of the earpiece itself has also decreased. It’s less noticeable than the XM3 or AirPods Pro because it’s less noticeable than your ears.

▲ The XM4's body has a rounded shape that fits comfortably in your ears.

▲ The XM4’s body has a rounded shape that fits comfortably in your ears.

▲ Compare with XM3. It's hard to stand out because it's no longer shaped like it's popping out from the front

▲ Compare with XM3. It’s hard to stand out because it’s no longer shaped like it’s popping out from the front

▲ Compare AirPods Pro and XM4.  AirPods Pro have a shape that extends from the microphone portion to the bottom.  The XM4 itself is large, but no part comes out of the ear

▲ Compare AirPods Pro and XM4. AirPods Pro have a shape that extends from the microphone portion to the bottom. The XM4 itself is large, but no part comes out of the ear

Another feature on AirPods Pro is that they are hard to fall out of your ears. This is the same as the XM3, but the XM3 has a chassis that allows the earphone to be inserted deep into the ear, while the XM4 has the impression that it is achieved through the friction of the earphone itself and the fit of the body in the ear. I think it is an ant to choose the XM4 in this regard because the aesthetics have changed as it has become smaller.

However, if you don’t remember where to put it, the XM4 will not fit your ears. Just rotate it to position it. Please note that if this is incomplete, it will fall off easily and the sound will not be selected correctly.

It should be noted that the change in the earpiece, which will be described later, has a significant impact on the sound and fit of the ear.

XM4 wins with sound quality.However, AirPods Pro show their true potential in “spatial audio”

Regarding the sound quality, the conclusion can be determined simply.

For simple comparisons, the XM4 is definitely better.

In terms of noise canceling (NC) effectiveness, the XM4 is clearly the best. Especially if you want to cancel your voice, the XM4 is convenient.

The NC for the XM4 is partially improved in terms of functionality, but it has a lot to do with the fact that the earpiece has become of the foam type, making it easier to stick to the ear. This can be seen from the fact that changing the AirPods Pro headset to a foam-type external product (for example, the AirPods Pro-compatible version from Comply) improves sound insulation, and NC approaches the performance of the XM4 accordingly.

However, it does mean that the feeling of close contact with the ears will increase = the burden of friction will increase, so some people seem to hate it. AirPods Pro are lighter on the ear than the XM3 when it comes to original earphones. Although it is negative for NC, I think there is such an option in terms of ease of use. Conversely, the XM3 and XM4 have the advantage of being “harder to fall out of your ears” than AirPods Pro.

In terms of sound quality, I think the XM3 was originally better than the AirPods Pro.

However, the difference wasn’t much, with some people sometimes saying “AirPods Pro are better”.

However, it is clearly different from XM4. The sound is thick and three-dimensional, which makes it more natural. In comparison, the AirPods Pro are flatter, the XM3 is a little better, and the XM4 is a lot better.

However, it is an impression that you are listening to a typical stereo song, and it changes again when you listen to Dolby Atmos songs on Apple Music. This is how bad spatial sound is. I think the XM4 would have a similar environment if the number of 360 Reality Audio songs increased and it became easier to experience, but for now, AirPods Pro gives the impression that “when using Apple Music from Apple products, it is the first choice”.

On the contrary, XM4 is the “other first choice”. It’s versatile, and looks good on Android, iPhone, Mac, and Windows. Especially in the case of Android, LDAC can be used as a codec, so it can be said that it is useful.

In terms of sound quality, I would also like to rate the significant improvement in the quality of External Audio Capture.

Comparing the XM3 and AirPods Pro, the AirPods Pro was the overwhelming winner in terms of sound quality when capturing external audio. But with the XM4, it has improved and is now more natural. It can be said that this point is to catch up.

The bluetooth switch has the same specifications as the XM3, and the application is in the maturity stage

Finally, I would like to mention device switching via bluetooth.

There appears to be no major spec change with the XM3 here. The priority connection is made to the recently paired device, but if you make a connection from another device, the device side will unpair the device that was connected before directly and connect to a new device. What makes me happy with these specs is that I don’t have to run the other device. For example, when using a smartphone with a PC or tablet, it’s nice to be able to switch by operating from just one device. Of course, it is easier to connect multiple devices at the same time, but there is no problem with this specification.

Apple-based products like AirPods Pro have similar specifications, but when paired with Apple products, there is the advantage that the device can be switched automatically. This also leads to the following point: “If you use it with Apple products, it’s your first choice.”

The communication and recognition speed of XM4 is faster than that of XM3, which makes it easier to use. However, this depends on the environment, such as the surrounding radio wave conditions.

▲ Sony headphone app.  Since they are common to all of the company's corporate headphones/earphones, they can be used with the XM3 or XM4.However, the user interface has changed a bit for the XM4.

▲ Sony headphone app. Since they are common to all of the company’s corporate headphones/earphones, they can be used with the XM3 or XM4.However, the user interface has changed a bit for the XM4.

I feel that the setup speed of the app has increased, but is it due to optimizing the app or optimizing the wireless system? The usability of the Sony Headphones app has greatly improved, perhaps because it has improved over time since it was made available. Well, the 360 ​​Reality Audio relationship I just introduced has a lot of things that I’m not aware of. Ear gauging is tedious, but we recommend doing it once. The data can be reused with any earphone.

Either way, the specs here are good, so I’m glad I followed through. If you want to use it on different devices, the XM4 is a recommended product.

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