Sony WH-1000XM4: Walmart confirms specifications, pricing and improved call quality; same battery life as WH-1000XM3 though
Walmart has published its listing for the WH-1000XM4, Sony's latest over-ear and noise-cancelling headphones. The successors to the WH-1000XM3, Walmart is not the first retailer to publish its WH-1000XM4 product listing before Sony has made an announcement. In April, BestBuy published marketing images for the WH-1000XM4 in two colours but was light on the details. BestBuy took down its product page shortly after publishing it, so we expect Walmart to do the same.
Nonetheless, Walmart has disclosed multiple aspects of the WH-1000XM4, screenshots of which we have included below. Firstly, the retailer will ask US$348 for the WH-1000XM4, US$1 less than BestBuy. This US$348 price tag tallies with a previous leak from someone who claimed to be a Walmart employee. Secondly, Walmart has confirmed that the WH-1000XM4 will support LDAC, Sony's proprietary Bluetooth codec. Most Android smartphones support LDAC, which can transfer data at bit-rates of up to 990 kbps. There is no mention of Sony's new headphones supporting Qualcomm aptX or aptX HD though, which may be because the WH-1000XM4 is powered by a MediaTek chip. By contrast, the WH-1000XM2 and WH-1000XM3 support both aptX codec. Support for these codecs is somewhat token, though. In our experience with the WH-1000XM2, Sony makes it improbable to enable aptX or aptX HD, so the lack of Qualcomm codecs on the WH-1000XM4 will not actually represent much of a loss.
The WH-1000XM4 series will continue to use 40 mm drivers, which have a frequency response of up to 40 kHz. There had been rumours that the WH-1000XM4 would support up to 40 hours battery life too, but Walmart contradicts this. Instead, the WH-1000XM4 will support up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge, just like the WH-1000XM3. According to the product listing, "10 minutes of charge time" will yield "up to 5 hours of playback". Presumably, 30 hours of battery life relates to noise-cancelling (ANC) being switched on, so the WH-1000XM4 will likely exceed that figure with ANC disabled.
Additionally, Walmart has confirmed that the WH-1000XM4 will support DSEE Extreme, references to which Sony mentioned in a recent update of its Headphones Connect app. Like DSEE HX, DSEE Extreme is an algorithm that Sony claims to improve the quality of compressed audio files. Pitched as "Real-time restoration of all your compressed files", Walmart explains that DSEE Extreme is:
...Edge-AI (Artificial Intelligence) co-developed with Sony Music Entertainment, DSEE Extreme (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) 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.
Walmart has confirmed that the WH-1000XM4 will support "Multipoint connection" and "Precise Voice Pickup Technology", too. According to the listing, the headphones "can be paired with two Bluetooth devices" simultaneously. The WH-1000XM4 will also be capable of switching between the two devices "at the touch of a button". The Walmart listing is the first reference that we have seen to "Precise Voice Pickup Technology". Promising to deliver clearer voice quality, the listing explains that Precise Voice Pickup Technology uses the headphones' five microphones and "advanced audio signal processing" to improve call clarity. Call quality is one area of weakness for the WH-1000XM series, so hopefully Sony has rectified this with the WH-1000XM4.
Walmart has not offered a release date for the WH-1000XM4. However, Sony's short-term confidentiality release date with the FCC has expired, suggesting that a release is imminent.