[Review] Sony WF-1000XM4 VS Apple Airpods Pro audio and performance

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Ever since I started my audio lover’s journey in college, I’ve been a huge fan of audio equipment and have probably amassed a collection of 10 pairs of headphones and earphones.

Unfortunately, wired audio devices can be boring to manage. I’m sure we’ve had experiences with headphones breaking after accidentally dropping them due to tangled wires.

Fortunately, over the years we have seen more and more wireless audio equipment appear thanks to the improvement in Bluetooth technology. However, if you talk to an audiophile (I don’t quite consider myself that way yet), they’ll tell you that wireless headphones will never outperform wired headphones in terms of audio quality.

At first I thought I would never sacrifice my love of audio quality for convenience, but that changed when I discovered the Sony WF-1000XM3. Since then, my love for wireless audio has grown tenfold.

It was enough to convince me, and it now serves as my daily earphones. That was until I got my hands on the new one Sony WF-1000XM4. But, how does it compare to the previous generation (WF-1000XM3) and Apple Airpods Pro?

First impressions

At first glance, I noticed that the WF-1000XM4’s body is slightly smaller than the previous generation, which improves its portability. Surprisingly of the 3, only the WF-1000XM4 could stand on its own, while the others had a rounded bottom.

That said, the case isn’t the only thing that’s shrunk. Compared to the XM3 the XM4 buds are smaller and for me they fit much better. With the XM3, I’ve always had the annoying feeling that they fall out of my ears as soon as I start to move too much.

So I feel more secure taking them for a run too. Not to mention that the XM4 is also rated IPX4, so it can withstand sweat and rain.

While pairing the XM4 to my phone was pretty straightforward, you’ll need to download the Sony Headphones Connect app to fully utilize the headphones’ capabilities. Unfortunately the update was boring as I had to make sure my phone was nearby and had to update it a few times for it to complete. But once the update is complete, everything is fine the rest of the way.

Small but packs a punch

From an audio perspective, note that this is a subjective opinion and your mileage may vary. I review the XM4 based on my own musical preferences and tastes.

Personally, I liked the sound of the XM4 more than that of the XM3. It could be due to a placebo or premium ear tips, but the music on the XM4 sounded cleaner, clearer, and had a more defined bass.

Faced with the Apple Airpods Pro, I can honestly say that I prefer the XM4s (this also comes from an average Apple enthusiast) due to the ability to change the EQ to suit my own preferences. If you want more bass or more treble, you can change them accordingly. With Airpods Pro, you’re stuck with presets in Apple’s music settings unless you tinker with it through third-party means.

Other notable features

The XM4 comes with 8 hours of listening with noise cancellation on and an additional 16 hours of battery life from the case. If you turn off noise cancellation, you can even extend it up to 32 hours of listening time in total. Meanwhile, the XM3 and Airpods Pro hover around 30 hours and 28 hours respectively.

Personally, I’ve also noticed that among the three, the XM4 has better noise cancellation, better than the Airpods Pro itself. I have a fan that blows straight in my face when I’m working, and the XM4 manages to cancel out most of the wind noise, while the Airpods Pro lets in a bit of noise every now and then.

Unfortunately, the XM4 has a downside that Sony has not been able to fully master. Call quality is not on par with Airpods Pro, but slightly better than XM3.

Another downside of the XM4 is that it cannot be paired with multiple devices. It will take some time to unpair your phone and pair it with your PC. While the Airpods Pro can’t do this seamlessly either, you can quickly unpair and pair the headphones between Apple devices.

With the way our lives are now connected to devices, it makes perfect sense that more brands are allowing multipoint connections, and that’s something Sony should improve on to increase adoption.

Like the Apple Airpods Pro, the Sony WF-1000XM4 can be charged wirelessly.

Verdict

Personally, I will put the Sony WF-1000XM4 as my TWS (truly wireless) headphones of choice, even when using an iPhone. Its music quality, battery life, and noise cancellation all sit on the pedestal of TWS headphones.

However, its price of RM 1,099 might put some people off. But if you want the best of the best, this is a decent pickup. If headphones aren’t your choice, the Sony WH-1000XM4, which is the headphone version, is also worth a look.

Here are some specs for geeks:

Sony WF-1000XM4 Sony WF-1000XM3 Apple Airpods Pro
Price RM1 099 RM899 RM1 099
Battery life (buds) Up to 12 hours (NC disabled) Up to 8 hours (NC disabled) Up to 5 hours (NC disabled)
Battery life (housing) Up to 32 hours Up to 30 hours Up to 28 hours
Noise suppression Active noise cancellation + Ambient noise mode Active noise cancellation Active noise cancellation + Transparency mode
Bluetooth 5.2 5.0 5.0
An audio codec SBC, AAC, LDAC SBC, AAC SBC, AAC
Wireless charging Yes No Yes
  • You can learn more about the Sony WF-1000XM4 here.
  • To learn more about the Vice President’s verdicts, click here.

VP Verdict is a series where we try and personally test products, services, modes and applications. Want to suggest something else to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.


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