Fewer restrictions in 2021 meant travel was back on the cards, and combined with the hybrid model of working at home and the office many have adopted, headphones are more important than ever. Whether it’s simply for personal escapism or for important work calls, they are one of the most essential tech items.
Sony has once again blown us away, this time with a new pair of flagship earbuds. The
WF-1000XM4 are effectively the earbud version of the
WH-1000XM4 and yes, Sony doesn’t seem to be hearing our cries for a better naming system, but they are still the best this year, scoring a rare 5/5 in our review.
While they’re not the smallest or lightest earbuds around, they are 10% smaller than the previous model and the new shape is more comfortable. The case is a whopping 40% smaller and includes wireless charging, too.
The size of the XM4 earbuds can easily be justified considering how much tech Sony has packed into them, starting with astonishingly good sound quality and class-leading noise cancelling. That would be enough to consider them for an award but there’s so much more and a lot of it can’t be found elsewhere.
DSEE Extreme upscaling, wind reduction, Hi-Res Audio Wireless, 360 Reality Audio spatial audio is just the start as you also get features introduced with the over-ear WH-1000XM4. Speak-to-Chat automatically detects your voice, pauses music and switches to ambient mode so you can have a conversation.
Ambient Sound Control adjusts the noise cancelling depending on what you’re doing, like running, or based on locations like home, the office or a favourite café.
Need them in your life? Here’s where to buy the WF-1000XM4 today:
We also loved…
2021 brought us lots of great audio products and although
Sonos didn’t launch its rumoured headphones (yet), the
Sonos Roam is one of the best portable speakers we’ve ever seen. It essentially takes the best things about the
Move and offers them up in a significantly smaller and lighter size, with a cheaper price as well.
The Roam can go anywhere, be used in different orientations, and has a durable IP67 design. It’s got Bluetooth and Wi-Fi so when you get home it can join the rest of the Sonos multi-room speakers and Sound Swap is a clever way of quickly transferring music to and from the Roam.
Back to wireless earbuds and
Cambridge Audio’s Melomania Touch impressed us greatly for several reasons. Although they don’t have ANC, there’s a transparency mode and the price is very reasonable.
The compact design is extremely comfortable, but we were mostly in awe of the sound quality and battery life. You can tweak to your heart’s content with a graphic equalizer and switch to the low power mode and the Melomania Touch can last a ridiculous 50 hours when you factor in the charging case.
Check out the rest of the
Tech Advisor Awards for 2021.