I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my Sony WH-1000X, the OG wireless bluetooth cans with badass sound cancelling–the one that didn’t use SBC! I went from mark 1 (technically they’re just not mark anything, but I’ll call them XM1 to keep it simple) to XM4, so there are actually some big differences. Most of them are probably already there if you got the mark 3s.
For one, I went from a refurb pair to a new pair. My 1000X was $180 refurb back in 2017 holiday season. It’s 3 years later and I went up to about $275 for these. I think that is a stretch, not because the sale was not big enough for me, but because I haven’t had a regular commute to work since March. If I had my usual workday commute, $300 for a three-year investment is well worth it, because these cans are just great all around.
Since I’m comparing the XM4 with the original, it is probably easier to just say what remained the same between the two, and what didn’t.
- Sound signature: still a tad thick overall versus neutral, is what I’d call it.
- LDAC and AAC support
- Basically the same form and form factor, with small changes.
- Still comes with a carry case with the same fold style and shape
- Still comes with a 3.5mm jack for wired use
- Same kind of ear pads
- Still fits my large-ish head comfortably, if on the snug side
- Still comes in black (I got the black one, but there’s also a silver XM4)
- Freakishly good ANC
- Touch control on right can, buttons on left can (only 2 buttons now on XM4)
- Mic still not great (XM4 is better though)
- XM4 has nearly double the battery life
- There’s an app. Since XM2 there was an app but the XM4 stuff is pretty wild. It’s the same app for the WF-1000 line (I also own a pair of WF-1000XM3).
- Seamless pairing thanks to Android advances (not that it was particularly an issue before, just much easier now). Also smooth onboarding that’s more or less automatic.
- More…bass in the XM4. By a good amount.
- XM4 is lighter and less rigid than XM1, which addresses the stress tension failure they had in the OG.
- Multi-point support–it’s barely working but it does work. Only caveat is it only supports SBC/AAC when you enable this feature, up to 2 devices max. Honestly AAC is fine for me, but sometimes I still prefer LDAC with the high resolution stuff.
- The case is a bit lighter but also a bit flimsier. XM1 case is quite rigid and took a lot of beating (I beat on it a lot, on that note). XM1 case is also a tiny bit more circular and thus a tad bigger. It also didn’t have the little hole in the divider inside to stow the airplane adapter, 3.5mm cable, and possibly your charger cable.
- Oh, USB-C on these, so I probably will just ditch the charger cable in the case. My XM1 was literally one of the last two things I carry that still used micro-USB. That said I am likely still to carry a micro-USB cable around even when I go to 0 micro-usb items just because I have some packrat tendencies. [The other micro-USB thing is a BT audio dongle/DAC.]
- I think the USB-C port on the XM4 actually has data, where as it’s just power on the XM1, correct me if I’m wrong here.
- The XM4 also is $50 more on MSRP, but this is the kind of thing you would never buy MSRP, so not a big deal. I got mine for $278 plus tax minus some credit card promo. Not bad for newish hardware on a Black Friday sale, as the XM4 came out in August 2020.
- XM4 sound is more delicate than XM1, but I think this is just a general improvement on Sony’s part.
Overall I think once the ‘rona stay-at-home vibe is over I will be working these hard. I find these headphones teetering more and more towards “need” than “want” over time, even if obviously I don’t need them. It’s just such a nice luxury. Also my XM1 is heading towards physical breakdown due to the headband stress fracture issue. It’s not beyond repair, that said, so maybe they’ll make as great backup or a hand-me-down.