For the past few years, Sony has made a name for itself with its superior noise-canceling technology, which has become almost second to none, with Bose trailing down one position. In fact, not just the noise cancelation (ANC), the company has also managed to produce some of the best sounding consumer headphones as well. And that is very evident with the remarkably popular WH-1000XM3 headphones, announced back in 2018, and their successor, the WH-1000XM4, unveiled a few months back.
While at large, both headphones (M3 and M4) are pretty much identical, they do have a few differences that set them apart. A few such noticeable changes include multi-point connectivity, wear-detection support, a slightly tuned sound that now lies in the neutral territory, and subtle improvements to the fit and comfort of the headphones. In case you own either of the two headphones, here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your headphones.
Best Sony WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 Tips and Tricks
1. Set up the headphones
First things first, the Sony XM3 and XM4 support both wired and wireless modes of playback. And you get a 3.5mm cable bundled with the headphones that lets you connect the headphones with any device that has an audio jack. Alternatively, you can use Bluetooth to listen to music as well. For this, you need to enable Bluetooth on your device (smartphone/laptop) and turn on the headphones (using the power button). Make sure the light blinks blue, which is an indication that the headphones are in pairing mode. Once done, go into the Bluetooth settings on your device and select the headphones from there.
Moreover, if you have an Android device that comes with NFC, pairing the headphones should be even more convenient. Since now, all you need to do is enable NFC on your phone and tap it on the left earcup of the headphones to pair the two together without having to turn on the headphones manually.
2. Take advantage of multi-point connectivity
With the all-new WH-1000XM4, you get multi-point connection support, which means you can connect the headphones with two devices at a time and seamlessly switch between them for music and calls. While there are some headphones that support multi-point connectivity, they often require the need to disconnect from one source and connect with the other to be able to use either functionality. However, with the WH-1000XM4, you can play music on one device and seamlessly switch to the other to take calls. To be able to use it effectively, you need to disable either the call or music playback functionality on one of the two devices from the Bluetooth settings.
3. Optimize headphones for effective noise cancelation
The Sony WH-1000XM3 (and M4) offer a unique functionality called NC Optimizer. As its name suggests, NC Optimizer optimizes the noise canceling on the headphones by considering various factors like the shape of your face, hairstyle, the presence of eyewear, and the surrounding noise. You can use the feature to optimize noise-canceling based on your immediate surrounding noises. For instance, you can optimize the noise canceling on your headphones for different phases during a flight or when you put on/off your eyewear. To do this, with the headphones turned on, press and hold the noise-canceling button for 2 seconds. The assistant will now alert you when the optimizer starts and ends. Once the optimization is complete, you will hear “optimizer finished”, and you are good to go. Alternatively, you can head to the Headphones Connect app and start optimization from there.
4. Ensure better sound quality
Sony offers two different sound quality modes over Bluetooth. Depending on what you prefer — sound or connection stability — you can select the appropriate sound quality from the Headphones Connect app. By default, the headphones are set to prioritize sound quality. However, in case you want to prioritize connection, you can do so from the app. If you use a device that supports AAC, aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC codec, you should have the “priority on sound quality” mode enabled to get the best output.
Update: Sony WH-1000XM5 Review
5. Use quick attention mode
Sony offers the Quick Attention mode feature on both the WH-1000XM3 and the WH-1000XM4 headphones. Quick Attention mode makes it easier for you to quickly talk to someone, with your headphones on, without having to pause the playback manually. So, if you want to have a quick word with someone, cover the right ear cup on the headphones with your hand to lower down the volume level — that way, you can easily listen to what the other person is saying and respond to them.
6. Leverage adaptive sound control
Both headphone models offer a nifty feature called Adaptive Noice Cancelation, which relies on specific data to determine the intensity of noise cancelation. There are two modes for this functionality: “detection of actions” and “detection of location”. You can either rely on actions or your location to automatically switch headphone settings based on the preset. “Detection of actions” is triggered when you are walking, running, or commuting, whereas “detection of location” keeps a record of the different locations you visit and the noise cancelation settings you use at those locations to control the headphone settings.
7. Use the companion app to explore the headphones
Both the WH-1000XM3 and M4 come with support for Sony’s companion app, Headphones Connect. Available for both Android and iOS, the app is a portal to all the different features and functionalities packaged in the headphones. You can download the app and use it to perform a plethora of operations. For instance, you can use the app to view battery percentage, check the Bluetooth codec in use, adjust noise canceling and ambient noise control modes, optimize noise-canceling functionality, adjust equalizer settings, enable DSEE HX or Extreme feature, and more. Needless to say, you can also update the firmware for the headphones right within the app.
8. Put voice assistant to use
Sony offers voice assistant support on both headphones. So, depending on the device you use your headphones with, you can use the available voice assistant to perform various operations on the phone. For instance, if you use an iPhone, you can directly trigger Siri by long pressing on the touch panel for 2 seconds. However, if you use some other voice assistant, you can set them up in the Headphone Connect app. On the other hand, if you use an Android device, you can use the voice assistant by pressing the ANC button, wherein a single tap reads out notifications, a double-tap cancels the voice command, and a press-and-hold allows you to input commands.
9. Pause/resume playback automatically
One of the biggest additions to the Sony WH-1000XM4 is the inclusion of the auto-detection feature, which is absent on the M3. Found on some of the TWS earbuds, the feature automatically pauses playback when you take off the headphones and resumes it when you put them back. Thus, saving you the hassle of manually controlling the playback from your phone.
10. Use LDAC codec
The WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4 both come with support for Sony’s LDAC audio codec. LDAC, for those unaware, is a Bluetooth codec that supports the transfer of 24-bit, 96kHz audio files over Bluetooth. It is one of the best codecs available out there, with Qualcomm’s aptX HD with 24-bit, 48kHz data stream coming in at second place. So, if you listen to a lot of hi-res audio, be it offline, using FLAC files, or via music streaming services like Tidal or Qubuz, you can enable LDAC to get the best music listening experience. If you have a device that supports LDAC, you can enable the codec from the Bluetooth settings.
11. Enable speak-to-chat
If you own the newer version of the headphones, the WH-1000XM4, you get the new speak-to-chat feature to make conversing with people – with your headphones on — even more convenient. Unlike the quick attention mode, wherein you are required to cover the ear cup to listen to and talk to people, speak-to-chat does not require you to do anything. You can enable the feature either via the Headphones Connect app or by tapping two fingers on the touch panel of the headphones. Once enabled, the next time you start speaking to someone, the headphones automatically recognize that you are in a conversation and pause the music playback.
Furthermore, you can also tweak the sensitivity of speak-to-chat to avoid accidental triggers. For this, go to the Headphones Connect app and click on the gear icon in the speak-to-chat section. From here, select the sensitivity option from the list to your preference.
12. Compensate for audio compression
Sony introduced the DSEE HX function with the WH-1000XM3, which works by upscaling the compressed sound data to give a clear and close-to-real reproduction of the original sound. Building on the same, it then introduced the DSEE Extreme function on the newer model, which claims to use AI to reproduce even better sound to compensate for the lost sound in the source during compression. So, depending on what headphones you are using, you can enable the feature right within the Headphones Connect app.
13. Receive calls on headphones
Alongside listening to music, you can also use the headphones for calls (receiving and making). For this, when you get an incoming call on your smartphone, double-tap the touch control cup on the headphones to receive it. When you need to end the call, tap on the same ear cup twice. And for times when you do not wish to pick up a call, tap and hold on the ear cup to reject it.
14. Tune the sound to your liking
Even though the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the WH-1000XM4 sound phenomenal, you always have the option to tune them to your liking. You can do this using the equalizer settings within the Sony Headphones Connect app, or you can download the Wavelet app — available only on Android — to get more control over your tuning.
15. Resetting the Sony WH-1000XM3 (and M4)
Sometimes you run into situations where the headphones do not function ideally, wherein neither do they connect to an already paired device nor do they playback any song. The best way to deal with such problems is to reset the headphones. To do this, put your headphones on charge and press and hold the power button and the noise-canceling button simultaneously.
Further, in case you still encounter issues with your headphones, you can restore them to the factory settings, which clears all the pairing, settings, and related data. To factory reset both models, first turn off the headphones. And then, press and hold the power button and noise-canceling button simultaneously for 7 seconds.
With the aforementioned tips and tricks, you can extend the functionality of both the headphones and leverage all the features that come bundled in to get the most of these cans.