Sony WH-1000XM4: what we want to see from Sony’s new wireless headphones

By Olivia Tambini

Rumors of an imminent Sony WH-1000XM4 release date have been circling since an FCC filing from Sony revealed the model number of what could be a brand new pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones have been on top of our list of the best headphones since their release way back in August 2018 – and if Sony’s upcoming headphones can build on their success, we could be in for a real winner.

18 months on, and the world is ready for a new pair of noise-canceling headphones from Sony – and with CES 2020 coming up in a matter of weeks, we’re holding out for a January 2020 release date, which means the Sony WH-1000XM4 could be with us very soon indeed.

We don’t know much about the rumored headphones, but we can hazard an educated guess as to what the Sony WH-1000XM4 might bring to the table, as well as the features we want to see from the successor to the world’s best headphones.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, the follow-up to the XM3s
  • When will they be released? We don’t know for sure, but were hoping to see them at CES 2020 in early January.
  • How much will they cost? That’s TBC, but at least $349 / £300 / AU$499 based on the XM3s.

Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones release date

At this stage, we only have the FCC filing, which doesn’t give a firm indication of release date – however, clearing an FCC filing usually suggests that a launch is imminent.

With CES 2020 coming up in a matter of weeks, we could see the Sony WH-1000XM4 between January 7 and January 10 in Las Vegas.

Sony usually has a huge presence at the world’s biggest tech show, and we’ll be on the ground reporting any releases from the tech giant – whether that’s a new 8K TV, more details on the PlayStation 5, or the Sony WH-1000XM4 (but hopefully all three).

Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones price

At this stage, Sony hasn’t confirmed the existence of the WH-1000XM4, let alone the price – however, we can hazard a guess based on previous Sony headphones.

The new cans will probably be at least as expensive as the WH-1000XM3, which cost $349 / £300 / AU$499 at launch (as did their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM2).

Sony WH-1000XM4: what we want to see

Noise cancelation on calls

The noise cancellation offered by the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones is undoubtedly very good – the best, in fact. However, innovations in noise-canceling technology means that we could see an upgrade in the new Sony WH-1000XM4.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 successfully fought off competition from Bose in 2019, Sony could take a leaf from its competitor’s book and apply noise-cancellation to phone calls as well as music, just like the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

These Bose headphones use an eight-microphone system; six of which enable traditional noise cancellation so you can hear your music uninterrupted.

Two of these microphones are paired with two separate mics, which work together to isolate your voice and reject environmental noise during phone calls. This means that your voice sounds clearer to the person on the end of the line, with less background noise getting in the way of your conversation.

When using the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, we found the call quality to be remarkably clear, even when walking on a busy London street. It’s a big selling point of these Bose cans, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar microphone array in the new WH-1000XM4.

sony wh-1000xm3

Improved audio quality

Again, the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones sound fantastic – but 18 months on, we’d be disappointed if the new cans didn’t sound better than their predecessors.

The current Sony cans use 40mm dome-type dynamic drivers, which do a great job of displacing air and creating a powerful sound – to improve this sound even further, Sony could opt to use a premium driver material like beryllium like the Focal Stellia headphones.

Sony may also swap its copper-clad aluminum voice coils for ones made of pure copper, which are lighter, more malleable, and less susceptible to electromagnetic interference than their aluminum counterparts.

Better connectivity

The new Sony WH-1000XM4 could have better connectivity than previous models if Sony decides to use Qualcomm’s latest Bluetooth codec, aptX Adaptive, which delivers lower latency, higher resolution wireless audio than its predecessors.

Headphones using this codec, like the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless Headphones, operate with low latency when you’re watching videos or playing games, avoiding that annoying lag between audio and visual that sometimes occurs over Bluetooth.

This codec also allows for the delivery of Hi-Res Audio over a wireless connection, leading to better-sounding music.

Should I buy the Sony WH-1000XM3?

If you were thinking of buying the Sony WH-1000XM3, you may be put off by the idea of a new model taking their place in the near future.

However, the current noise-cancelling Sony headphones could be a great option if you’re looking to save money – since Black Friday, we’ve seen some great Sony WH-1000XM3 deals.

In fact, they recently hit their lowest price ever at Walmart in the US, and we’ve seen similar price drops in the UK, too.

Check out the best Sony WH-1000XM3 prices in your region below: