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Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones could look familiar but pack awesome new features

Don't judge a book by its cover, because the headphones could be loaded with new features in spite of looking unchanged.

Published onMay 22, 2020

Sony WH 1000XM3 at angle on table

Sometimes, it makes sense to stick with the look and feel that people are familiar with, which is what Sony seems to be doing with the release of the WH-1000XM4 headphones. According to newly leaked rumors, not a lot has changed visually from the WH-1000XM3 (nor has the extremely clunky naming convention), but things have taken a significant step forward under the hood.

Thanks to teardowns done by Twitter user @justplayinghard and XDA Developers, we’ve managed to learn quite a bit about the upcoming Sony headphones, with the first major takeaway being that they will probably look almost the same as the previous generations.

However, a new feature likely coming to the WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones is multi-device pairing. Users can pair two devices at a time, but doing so will get rid of the high-quality LDAC codec. Thankfully, while only two devices can connect at once, the headphones will store more than two pairings, meaning users can simply switch between other devices.

Sony WH-1000XM3 vs. Bose QC 35 II: which should you buy?
Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones vs. Bose QC 35 II title card.

Another exciting bit of information from the teardown of the WH-1000XM4 comes in the form of a feature called Smart Talking. Presumably, this feature will let the headphones detect voices and automatically turn on Ambient Sound Mode. This could make life a lot easier for anyone who finds that people like to approach them while wearing their earphones. Instead of turning the music off, pausing, or placing your hand over the cup to temporarily turn on passthrough, the feature would allow them to automatically hear the sound outside while people are talking and then get back to their music when the conversation ends.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Info from Headphone Connect 7.0.1
Looks identical to the XM3.
It’ll be able to change some (if not all) headphone settings based on your location (set locations or your own) and uses Google Maps API for it.
New DSSE Extreme (also on X1ii), probably AI Upscaling
— JustPlayingHard (@justplayinghard) May 21, 2020

The app teardown also found something called DSEE Extreme, which is currently thought to be an AI-enhanced version of the existing DSEE HX. This is an upscaling feature that could come in handy for listening to music.

Colors available for the WH-1000XM4 headphones will probably be black, silver, and a new white.

Sony WH 1000XM3 press render
Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones
The best just keeps getting better.
The best-in-class noise-cancelling on the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones makes up for its horrible name (and its high price). Seriously, though, these are probably the best headphones you can get without spending over $1,000.

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