Sony WH1000XM4 vs Sony WH1000XM3: Is it Worth to Upgrade?

If you are in a hurry here is a quick comparison of Sony WH1000XM4 vs Sony WH1000XM3.

Model

Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sound Output

Stereo

Stereo

Color options

Black, Silver

Black, Silver

Size

10.43 x 7.3 x 2.93 inches

9.94 x 7.27 x 3.03 inches

Weight

8.99 ounces

8.95 ounces

Driver size

40mm

40mm

Processor

QN1

QN1

Microphone

Yes

Yes

Battery Life

30 hours (NC on), 38 hours (NC off)

30 hours (NC on), 38 hours (NC off)

Touch-sensitive controls

Yes

Yes

Water resistance

No

No

Rating

Price

The Sony WH-1000XM3 has been the preferred headphones for many people since they offer outstanding sound performance. However, since Sony dropped their latest model, people started wondering if it is worth it to upgrade to Sony WH-1000XM4 from Sony WH-1000XM4.

Sony is known for producing some of the highest-quality audio devices, and the WH models are no exception. They offer remarkable noise cancellation, superior sound, and impressive battery life. That’s why professional musicians use both of these models.

In this comparison, we will put both headphones to the test and find out which is better, Sony WH-1000XM3 or Sony WH-1000XM4.


About Sony


Sony has a rich history in almost any tech category you can imagine. They are producing high-end electronics that are always pushing the limits of technology.

When it comes to their sound department, they have an excellent reputation since their products offer the best quality available on the market. It seems like their WH-1000XM series are the crowned jewel in their wireless headphones category, so we are interested in what they have to offer with their new series.

Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony WH-1000XM3

Even since they’ve released the Sony WH-1000XM3, they’ve become an instant hit among music lovers. They have a futuristic and elegant design and are packed with state-of-the-art technologies.

First and foremost, the most impressive thing on the Sony WH-1000XM3 is noise-canceling technology. They are using Sony’s Dual Noise Sensor technology and their latest HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 to minimize the background noise.

This active noise canceling feature works remarkably in the real world, and the best thing is that you can optimize the noise canceling to your preference. So if you are in traffic and want to hear cars or other potential hazards, you can just tune down the noise canceling.

In terms of design, they are very durable. The ear cups and headband are wrapped in cozy and soft padding that allows good air circulation but still provides a tight seal. They are made from aluminum to minimize weight, and they are very comfortable to wear.

Another exciting feature on the Sony WH-1000XM3 is the smart controls built on the left earcup’s touch-sensitive surface. You can swipe or tap with your finger to skip songs, pause, control the volume, or mute.

Pros

  • Impressive sound quality
  • Remarkable Noise Canceling technology
  • Comfortable Fit
  • Durable
  • Great Connectivity

Cons

  • Touch Controls can be difficult to work with
Sony WH-1000XM4

On the other hand, we have the Sony WH-1000XM4, which has a lot to live up to considering the perfect performance of their predecessor. They were released in August 2020, and Sony has made a few tweaks to improve some components from their last model.

In terms of materials and build quality, you can expect the same attention to detail and refined design with rugged plastic and aluminum build. The WH-1000XM4 still has touch-sensitive controls alongside two physical buttons for turning them on/off and a noise-canceling button.

Even though the NC technology on the previous model works flawlessly, Sony saw an opportunity to improve them. The WH-1000XM4 now has a new system-on-a-chip that promises even better noise cancellation.

When it comes to sound quality, you cannot expect anything less than perfection. They provide a great tone balance and have a wide frequency range that can reach higher and lower notes with no distortion.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones come with a handy app that offers a ton of features. You can tweak the sound performance to your preference, select how much noise cancellation you want, and you can even take a picture of your ear, and the app will analyze it and optimize the sound to deliver the best performance.

Clearly we are talking about premium headphones that have a lot of features to offer for the money.

Pros

  • Awesome noise canceling
  • Impressive sound quality
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Comfortable fit
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Double-tap doesn’t always work

Sony WH-1000XM3 vs Sony WH-1000XM4 - Face-To-Face

Design

Design

If we put these two headphones next to each other, you won’t tell the difference.

They look identical even though there is a slight change in size where the new WH-1000XM4 comes in 9.94 x 7.27 x 3.03 inches, compared to the WH-1000XM3 that are 10.43 x 7.3 x 2.93 inches. In terms of weight, they are almost identical 8.95 ounces on the XM4 compared to 8.99 ounces on the XM3.

In hand, the new series WH-1000XM4 feels a bit more enhanced than the previous model. They are both built from the same materials, and they feature aluminum extenders and a refined leather headband.

Since the ear cups are slightly bigger, Sony claims that they offer a 10 percent greater surface to the head, which provides a tighter seal.

Another design difference is the feel of the material on the new WH-1000XM4. Some people noticed that the ear cups’ texture feels more plasticky on WH-1000XM3 than the soft-touch rubber finish on the WH-1000XM4.

Sony made a few improvements to increase comfortability since we talked about bulky headphones that might get uncomfortable after 3 hours of listening. They have softer padding that is gentler on the skin, and they apply less pressure to the skull and ears.

People really hoped that Sony would consider their demands for making the new WH-1000XM4 water-resistant, but unfortunately, they still don’t have an IPX certificate.

Since all of these improvements don’t make a significant difference to the look and feel of the new WH-1000XM4, they are even in terms of design.

Winner: Tie

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Audio Quality

Audio Quality

The audio quality is the strongest point of these two headphones. They are loud, clear, and the music feels energetic.

Since the previous Sony WH-1000XM3 had an excellent sound performance, we were eager to see how Sony tends to improve in this department.

However, both headphones have the same hardware underneath their hoods, that pumps up the dynamic and incredible sound. People with fine-tuned hearing or true audiophiles might pick up the tiniest enhancements in audio quality, but overall they sound the same.

The not so secret ingredient for this perfect audio quality lies in Sony’s 40mm dome type drivers and QN1 chip. With that being said, you can expect a really wide soundstage and extraordinary detail and depth.

The bass is perfectly balanced, which doesn’t hold back, nor damages your hearing. Sony did a great job providing a balanced sound that offers plenty of boom to hear complex records.

The best thing is that the active noise cancellation mode doesn’t hinder the performance. The mids and highs still sound very crisp.

Some people might notice that the bass levels are slightly raised on the WH-1000XM4, which is more noticeable on hip-hop songs, but this won’t make any difference since you can access the EQ settings on the WH-1000XM3 and add more bass.

Winner: Tie

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Active Noise Cancellation

Active Noise Cancellation

As we mentioned before, the best thing about these headphones is the fantastic active noise canceling technology.

Both headphones use the monstrous duo of Sony’s HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 and Dual Noise Sensor technology. The results speak for themselves. They are great for minimizing the ambient noise up to a full silence.

Sony programmed the Ambient Sound mode into its two sets of headphones. When the WH-1000XM3 was released you had to choose from 10 levels of NC but after the update, the WH-1000XM4 and the WH-1000XM3 come with 20 levels of noise-canceling is excellent for optimizing the sound to your surroundings.

Both models have some of the best active noise-canceling technology we’ve seen so far. With that being said, the WH-1000XM4 might have the slightest edge over its predecessor, and maybe it is because the ear cups are slightly bigger providing a tighter seal.

Overall, you won’t be disappointed with either model you choose in terms of noise canceling.

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM4

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Battery Life

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life, both headphones will last around 30 hours with noise canceling turned on, which in the real world is around 28 hours. This is an impressive battery life compared to other headphones in this price range.

If you decide to turn off the ANC, you can bump up the battery life up to 38 hours.

The best thing about both of these headphones is the quick charge. Since both models come with USB-C fast charging, you will be able to get an astonishing five hours of battery life with only a 10-minute charge.

There is one feature that separates both headphones in terms of battery life. Sony equipped the WH-1000XM4 with an auto-pause feature when you take them off, increasing the battery life on your headphones.

In recent tests, people claim that the newer Sony WH-1000XM4 has a lower battery life performance than their predecessor. In fact, they last about 24 hours compared to the 28 hours on the WH-1000XM4.

Winner: Sony WH-1000XM3

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Stand Out Features Of Sony WH-1000XM3

NFC Chip

The Sony WH-1000XM3 comes with a built-in NFC chip that lets you connect your phone with them by a simple touch and pair process. This requires you to put the phone on the left earcup and provide an instant pair.

With this feature, you can lower the number of steps to connect to the device normally.

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Room Effect

As we mentioned, there are a lot of features you can play around with both of these headphones. However, one feature stands out on the WH-1000XM3 called Room Effect.

This feature enhances the audio quality to make it more immersive. This means that if you want to tweak the sound, you can add the room effect for creating a more spacious soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like experience.

Stand Out Features Of Sony WH-1000XM4

Multi-Device Pairing

The latest WH-1000XM4 comes with a newly added feature that lets you connect your headphones with multiple devices. This feature comes in very handy when you want to switch to another device without going to the trouble of disconnecting the previous one.

More: Check our detailed review of Bose Solo 5 vs Vizio sb3621n-e8 here

Bluetooth 5.0

Sony decided to put the latest Bluetooth 5.0 connection on the WH-1000XM4, which is a considerable upgrade from the Bluetooth 4.2 on the WH-1000XM3.

This means that they provide a much more stable connection and offer more range. The WH-1000XM4 has a light of sight range of 299 ft compared to the 185 ft on the WH-1000XM3.

Which Is Better Sony WH-1000XM4 or Sony WH-1000XM3?

Choose the Sony WH-1000XM3 if:

  • You want less expensive headphones.
  • You want better battery life.
  • You want amazing, sound quality.
  • You want impressive noise canceling.

Choose the Sony WH-1000XM4 if:

  • You want a more refined design.
  • You want better noise canceling.
  • You want better connectivity.
  • You want impressive sound quality.

Overall, both headphones deliver impressive performance, and it is hard to choose between them.

If you already own the Sony WH-1000XM3, you shouldn’t upgrade to the WH-1000XM4 since there is no significant difference. However, if you are interested in buying new premium headphones, then the Sony WH-1000XM4 will be the right choice for you.

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