Sony XM4 vs XM5: Downgrade for the Win

Sony XM4

I initially opted for the Sony XM5 due to their rave reviews across various sources. However, after some deliberation, I swapped them out for the XM4, and I must say, it’s been a much more satisfying experience. Let me break down my comparison between the XM4, XM5, Apple AirPods Max, and Bose QuietComfort 45 to assist anyone facing a similar decision.

Noise Cancellation (4.5/5):

The noise cancellation prowess of the XM4 is quite remarkable, almost reaching the heights of the Apple AirPods Max. I’d rate it a 4.5 because, while the XM4 is nearly on par with the AirPods Max, the latter still holds a slight edge. What I appreciate about the XM4 is the convenience of a dedicated button to toggle noise cancellation, a feature absent in the Bose QuietComfort 45. Unlike the XM5, the XM4’s noise cancellation is more consistent, sparing me from the annoyance of it randomly toggling on/off. While it doesn’t completely block out all sound, it significantly reduces ambient noise to a level where conversations and music become muffled, albeit still audible. One minor inconvenience is the announcement when noise cancellation turns off during conversations, which may disrupt the experience.

Sound Quality (4/5):

The sound quality is commendable, surpassing that of the XM5 but falling slightly short of the crispness offered by the Apple AirPods Max. The 360 sound feature is an interesting addition, although I seldom find myself utilizing it. Unlike the XM5, which occasionally suffered from muffled audio, the XM4 delivers consistently clear sound without any hiccups.

Comfort (5/5):

Comfort-wise, the XM4 excels. As someone who wears glasses with plastic frames, finding headphones that accommodate them comfortably is often a challenge. Unlike the discomfort I experienced with the Apple AirPods Max, the XM4 provides a snug fit without exerting undue pressure on my ears. Although I do encounter some discomfort on the headband after prolonged use, it’s a minor inconvenience compared to the overall comfort they offer. However, due to my TMJ condition, extended wear occasionally triggers discomfort, prompting me to switch to earbuds.

Product Quality (3.5/5):

In terms of build quality, the XM4 feels sturdy and durable, albeit lacking the premium feel of the Apple AirPods Max. Compared to the XM5, which felt rather cheaply constructed, the XM4 represents a notable improvement. While not exceptional, they certainly exude a sense of reliability.

Sony XM4

Aesthetic (3.5/5):

While aesthetics may not be a deal-breaker for everyone, the XM4 sports a decent appearance, albeit slightly bulkier than some alternatives. Despite initial concerns about their clunky appearance, they grow on you after a while and don’t look out of place.

Connectivity (4/5):

Being an Apple user, I’ve found the XM4’s connectivity seamless with my devices, a stark contrast to the connectivity issues I encountered with the XM5. While managing the headphones through the Sony Connect app initially felt unfamiliar, it’s proven to be user-friendly and even offers a sense of control akin to a remote.

Battery Life (5/5):

The battery life of the XM4 is truly impressive. After 8 days of usage, they’re still going strong with around 40% charge remaining. The automatic power-off feature further enhances battery efficiency, a feature I particularly appreciate.

Overall (4.5/5):

In summary, the XM4 emerges as an excellent choice, offering comparable performance to the Apple AirPods Max at a more reasonable price point. While I haven’t personally tried the Bose QuietComfort 45, the XM4 undoubtedly surpasses its predecessor, the XM5, in terms of both quality and value. With exceptional comfort, top-notch noise cancellation, commendable sound quality, and impressive battery life, the XM4 stands as a worthy investment for discerning headphone enthusiasts.