Yesterday, Apple finally rolled out Spatial Audio (Dolby Atmos) along with Lossless (and Hi-Res Lossless) audio on Apple Music, and Apple’s AirPods Pro TWS earbuds are a great way to take it in (we tried it!). At least the Spatial Audio part.
That’s because, as reported by several online outlets, none of their headphones, including AirPods Pro or Max, are capable of handling lossless audio streams.
However, things are slightly different on the Android side of the street, especially with today’s release of the WF-1000XM4 True Wireless Earbuds from Sony. These earphones have been teased for quite some time now, and they look poised to take the top spot for wireless earbuds, especially in the audio department.
Like Apple’s AirPods, they are advertised to work with a form of Spatial Audio. In this case, instead of Dolby Atmos, it’s Sony’s version of simulated 3D sound called 360 Reality Audio. This technology is currently implemented on both TIDAL, Amazon Music, and Deezer streaming services (for selected songs), and it’s supposed to make the music sound like it’s enveloping you. It’s only available on Android phones.
As far as High-Resolution audio is concerned, the WF-1000XM4 one-ups the Apple Headphones, utilizing Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec, which provides a compressed equivalent of 24-bit/96kHz audio streams. This is not quite lossless, but it’s about as close as your going to get in a wireless earphone, and Apple doesn’t have it. You can only get LDAC on Android phones.
Besides the audio enhancements, the WF-1000XM4 has a whole raft of compelling features like class-leading noise cancellation for both music and calls, long battery life, and Google’s Fast Pair, which allows super-fast pairing with selected Android phones, as well as earbud location and low battery notifications.
For a full list of the WF-1000XM4’s features see below:
Industry Leading Noise Cancellation
- Best-Ever Noise Canceling Performance: Specially developed by Sony, the newly designed Integrated Processor V1 takes the noise canceling performance of Sony’s acclaimed QN1e chip and goes even further. With two noise sensing microphones on the surface of each earbud – one feed-forward and one feed-back – the headphones analyze ambient noise to provide highly accurate noise cancellation. Even on windy days, the headphones Automatic Wind Noise Reduction mode detects when it’s windy and automatically compensates. A newly designed 6mm driver unit with a 20% increase in magnet volume and a high compliance diaphragm provides improved performance in low frequencies and enhances noise canceling by generating a high-precision cancellation signal to the low frequency range. Improved noise canceling performance and Bluetooth® ‘System on Chip’ technology delivers the industry’s highest level of noise canceling yet, while still using less power than its predecessor.
Exceptional Sound and Call Quality
- Big Sound, Small Package: Despite their small size, the headphones’ specially designed 6mm drivers reproduce a dynamic sound while the high compliance diaphragm reproduces a rich bass range. The Integrated Processor V1 also enhances sound quality and reduces distortion, while enabling LDAC codec processing and DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) Extreme.
- High-Resolution Audio Wireless: The WF-1000XM4 headphones now support High-Resolution Audio Wireless2 thanks to LDAC, Sony’s industry-adopted audio coding technology. LDAC transmits approximately three times more data (at the maximum transfer rate of 990 kbps) than conventional Bluetooth® audio, allowing users to enjoy High-Resolution Audio content with exceptional quality, as close as possible to that of a dedicated wired connection.
- Richer Music with Edge-AI: Using Edge-AI, DSEE Extreme™3 upscales compressed digital music files in real time. Dynamically recognizing instrumentation, musical genres, and individual elements of each song, such as vocals or interludes, it restores the high-range sound lost in compression for a richer, more complete listening experience.
- Hands-free Calls with Precise Voice Pickup: Combining Precise Voice Pickup Technology with microphones and a bone-conduction sensor, the WF-1000XM4 picks up voice clearly and accurately for hands-free calls. Beamforming microphones are calibrated to only pick up sounds from the user’s mouth. With an improved signal-to-noise ratio, they’ll catch every word, even when there’s a lot of surrounding noise. The new bone-conduction sensor only picks up vibrations from the user’s voice, enabling even clearer speech when making calls. Additionally, the headphones’ noise canceling makes calls in noisy environments even easier.
- Experience 360 Reality Audio4: 360 Reality Audio, a new immersive audio experience, can be enjoyed on the WF-1000XM4 headphones when combined with an Android™ smartphone/iPhone® that has a participating streaming services app installed5. The 360 Reality Audio listening experience immerses users in music as if they were right in front of their favorite artist. Listeners can enjoy a custom immersive musical field that is perfectly optimized for them when using the WF-1000XM4 headphones and the “Sony | Headphones Connect” app.
- Speak-to-Chat: After receiving widespread praise when it was first introduced on the overhead WH-1000XM4 model, the feature is now available on the WF-1000XM4, enabling users to have short conversations without taking out the earbuds6. Based on Precise Voice Pickup Technology, which combines four microphones and sensors with advanced audio signal processing, Speak-to-Chat recognizes and reacts to the user’s voice. As soon as the user speaks to someone, Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses the music and lets in ambient sound. Once the chat is over, music starts playing again automatically7. Users can also activate ‘Quick Attention’ mode by simply placing their finger over the left earbud to decrease the volume instantly and let in ambient sound.
- Adaptive Sound Control: This smart feature senses where users are and what they’re doing, whether it be travelling, walking or simply waiting around, and then adjusts ambient sound settings for the ideal listening experience. Users can opt to have Adaptive Sound Control learn to recognize places they frequently visit, like the office, gym, or a favorite café, and tailor sound to suit the situation.
- Instant Pause. Instant Play.: The headphones come with instant pause and play for a seamless experience. Just take the earbuds out and the music stops thanks to a proximity sensor that detects when they are being worn. Simply pop them back in and the music starts again.
Compact Design with a Stable Fit
- A Lighter and More Stable Fit: The new headphones combine a shape that matches the ear cavity with a new ergonomic surface design for a more stable fit. Using the Sony | Headphones Connect App, users can now take a few simple measurements to find the ideal size of Noise Isolation Earbud Tips8 to ensure maximum sound quality and minimum outside noise. The new earbud tips are made from a unique polyurethane foam material that is soft and elastic, which improves adhesion to the ear canal, eliminating gaps to insulate sound and reduce noise. The headphones are also lighter and 10% smaller than their predecessor, with a 40% smaller charging case.
Seamless User Experience
- Impressive Battery Life: Enjoy up to 8 hours of use from the headphones, and up to 16 hours from the case. This means a full 24 hours9 of charge. In a hurry? A 5-minute quick charge gives up to 60 minutes of play time, and the Sony | Headphones Connect app sends a notification when the charging case drops below 30%.
- Truly Wireless Charging: No cables are necessary thanks to easy wireless charging with Qi technology10. Use a smartphone with Qi technology, like the latest Xperia model with battery share function11, to charge the headphones and charging case.
- Water Resistance: With an IPX4 water resistance rating12, splashes and sweat won’t stop the WF-1000XM4. Users can keep moving to the music, even if they’re running for the bus in the rain.
- Better Bluetooth for Uninterrupted Viewing: The advanced wireless connection syncs what users see on screen precisely with what they hear on their headphones, making them perfect for watching TV shows, movies and more with low latency. By optimizing the transmission algorithm with the Integrated Processor V1, the connection is now more stable and less prone to sound skipping, even in environments where there is interference (like public Wi-Fi), which means the WF-1000XM4 provide a clear and consistent Bluetooth® connection.
- Easy Pairing & Voice Assistant Capabilities: Get hands-free help by just saying “Hey Google” or “Alexa”13 to activate a preferred voice assistant. Enjoy entertainment, connect with friends, get information, listen to music and notifications, set reminders, and more. Additionally, the headphones support Google’s helpful new Fast Pair feature. In one tap, the WF-1000XM4 enable quick, effortless Bluetooth pairing with an Android device. The headphones also come with Microsoft Swift Pair, which makes it easy to connect with Windows 10 devices.
- Intuitive Touch Controls: Through the touch controls, users can easily activate Noise Cancellation, Ambient Sound, Quick Attention mode or simply skip, pause or play songs.
Better for the Environment
- Environmentally Conscious Materials: Our innovative blended paper packaging is designed for true sustainability, from production to recycling. With the exception of the label, the WF-1000XM4 packaging is entirely made using “Original Blended Material.””Original Blended Material” is a durable paper material developed by Sony. It is suitable for a diverse range of packaging and has less of an environmental impact than virgin plastics. The material is made from bamboo, sugarcane fibers, and post-consumer recycled paper, all of which are available around the world’s largest manufacturing hubs in Asia.
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