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Sony WH-1000XM4 may launch this week — watch out, Bose

Sony WH-1000XM4 design
(Image credit: The Walkman Blog)

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are reportedly due to launch this week, ushering in an evolution of the critically-acclaimed Sony WH-1000XM3 (that look to rival the Bose 700, too).

At least that’s what we can glean from a teaser page on Sony’s Japan website which has August 7 daubed upon it with the words “wait 4 something exciting.” It wouldn’t be hard to extrapolate that the number four in that text is likely to relate to the WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones, as Sony has no other fourth-generation tech rumored to be in the works. 

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have been expected to arrive around this time for a while now. Their predecessors are nearly two years old, so an update is arguably due. And from the rumors we’ve heard so far, an update to the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are about all we can really expect. 

The design of the Sony WH-1000XM4 is not expected to change noticeably from the previous generation. And the feature set is largely expected to be the same. 

However, the Sony WH-1000XM4 will have the ability to connect to two devices at the same time using Bluetooth and they'll be able to switch between them on-the-fly. That should make the occasionally tedious process or re-pairing the headphones with different devices less of a drag. 

More improvements are expected under the hood of the Sony WH-1000XM4, with the headphones reportedly getting a new “Precise Voice Pickup” feature. It promises to use five built-in microphones to better detect the wearer’s voice when they are running a call through the headphones; this is an area that the Sony WH-1000XM3 didn’t always excel at. 

Such a mic array should help facilitate the headphones’ "Smart Talking" feature, which will allow for the ambient sound mode of the headphones to trigger automatically when a person’s voice is detected. This means the wearer should be able to have a conversation with someone without removing their headphones.

These features could give the Sony WH-1000XM4 the edge needed to beat the Bose 700, which are a stellar pair of over-ear headphones with active noise cancellation. The Bose 700 comes with eight mics, which means they’re great for suing with voice calls. And a clever sound filtering mode lets in wanted audio while filtering out undesirable sounds. 

Expected to cost around $350, the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones will pretty much be a replacement for the Sony WH-1000XM3 - though expect to find those cans at discounted prices as retailers shed their stock - and could stand a chance at taking the top spot on our best noise cancelling headphones list.