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Sony WH-1000XM4 review: As good as it gets

Small improvements add up to a better overall experience

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The Sony-WH1000XM line has been much hyped and it’s for a good reason. Ask anyone who’s ever used or reviewed these headphones and they’ll tell you how it’s one of, if not, the best they’ve ever used. The same is true for its latest version — the Sony WH-1000XM4.

It maintains the simple and sleek design

The red marker to quickly point which is right or left is also still here

The product’s name is visible on either side so you don’t mistake it for the earlier versions

On the left side you’ll find the power button and the custom button that, by default, triggers your preferred Voice Assistant

You have the USB port for charging and 3.5mm jack for when you want to stay wired

There’s a sensor inside the left ear cup so it knows right away when you take it off to pause music and conserve battery

And it still comes with this equally nice and sleek case

It’s also pretty bendy like the WH-1000XM3, but we don’t recommend you twist it like this often

Sony pretty much improved everything it could possibly improve on save for the name. To answer your questions about the device, Rodneil and CJ share their experiences while using the headphones.

Rodneil (L) going back to the next track and CJ (R) summoning the voice assistant

Oh and about the name, for brevity we’re mostly going to refer to the WH-1000XM4 as just the XM4. We’ll also do the same for other devices in the same line, i.e. WH-1000XM3 to XM3.

What new feature on the XM4 were you most excited about? 

Rodneil: I wouldn’t exactly say excited but the ability to pair with two devices simultaneously was a long-time coming feature and I’m glad it finally made it to the XM4. Although, it’s prudent to point out that using the multi-device pairing feature will disable LDAC on phones that support it. That said, it still sounds amazing even with this turned off.

In case you didn’t know, LDAC is Sony’s proprietary audio coding technology which essentially transmits higher quality audio with less data and compression. Most flagship phones support this feature.

I imagine the Speak-to-Chat feature would work great if you’re out and about. However, since I am currently in isolation, the only thing it did was highlight how my voice doesn’t really sound good when I try to sing-along to TWICE’s songs. 😑

CJ: Honestly, I thought Sony did such a great job with the XM3 that I couldn’t think of anything they could have possibly added to the XM4. But using the XM4 over the last week, there’s a few new features that I really value.

As Rodneil mentioned, the ability to pair with two devices simultaneously is probably the most appreciated, even though it disables LDAC.

Funny enough, for me, the new Speak-to-Chat and Ambient Sound Controls turned out to be something I found incredibly useful. It’s like I’m wearing “Smart” headphones.

The XM4 will detect when you’re walking around outside and tune down the noise cancellation to allow you to hear ambient sounds like cars passing by. But most impressive of all, though a little gimmicky at times, it can now detect when you’re speaking and will turn down the noise cancellation and volume.

Pretty handy when you want to stop by that coffee shop to get your morning coffee on your way to work in the morning. Of course, if you find these features too buggy, you can switch them off in the Sony Headphones app.

Where and when would you typically use these headphones? 

Rodneil: Pre-pandemic, I would put it on to zone out of the workplace and zone in on whatever I’m working on. Now that we’re in a new normal and I’m working alone at my place, I mostly use headphones during video calls and as accessories when shooting smartphones haha.

But anything with noise-cancelling, for me, is extremely helpful in maintaining focus. I usually put these on when I’m about to go on a writing marathon. I’ve been pretty scatter-brained the past few months and having headphones with ANC really helps me lock in.

Just looking out the window, pondering my life choices while tuning out the world

I also recently downloaded the DLC for Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PS4 and have used the XM4 while gaming. Immersive might be an understatement to describe the experience. It sounds even better on certain other games that really pay a lot of attention to sound.

CJ: Thankfully Malaysia has gotten back to some sort of normality so we’re all out and about right now.

The XM4 is great for my morning commutes to work and back home, be it via the LRT or a GrabCar with a really chatty driver. I’m really antisocial in the mornings and I can’t handle conversations. With the XM4, wear them, switch them on, and the active noise cancellation blocks everything out. You’re on your own private island in the middle of nowhere, just you and your music — it’s amazing.

But that being said, pre-pandemic, the main reason I’d get these headphones would have been for traveling. Long flights, or even a long bus ride, are so much easier to deal with when you have a good pair of noise cancelling headphones. With the crazy long battery life, the great noise cancellation, and the solid audio quality, the XM4 is more than equipped to handle it.

Have you used this during calls, zoom meetings? Did the person on the other line think you sounded okay?

Rodneil: I’m mostly just listening in the handful of calls and meetings I attended while I had these. But on a couple of calls that I had to speak, the other person on the line said I sounded… okay.

I called the same person using a much cheaper pair of TWS earphones but that one had the stem design which had mics. Those mics picked up my voice better than the ones on the WH-1000XM4 and they’re a fraction of the XM4’s price.

However, they can’t hold a candle to the XM4’s sound quality. Just know that these were made primarily for listening and noise-cancelling. The mics on the XM4 are decent but the quality for calls leaves room for improvement.

CJ: Same here actually. They’re just… okay for voice calls. But then, with these headphones they’re all about the audio quality, for listening to music.

I don’t think microphone quality should be high up on your radar of expectations with any of these sorts of high-end ANC headphones.

If you have the XM3, should you upgrade to this?

Rodneil: It’s been over a year since I used the XM3 and I would say that for the most part, you’re getting pretty much a comparable quality performance. Despite the long gap between the devices, the XM4 feels like a refinement of the XM3 instead of a full-on upgrade.

If your only concern is getting top-notch noise-cancellation along with the cleanest, fullest sound you can experience from headphones then the XM3 is still a fine choice. It’s now cheaper wherever you can get Sony headphones and you’re only missing a few bells and whistles like Speak-to-Chat and marginal improvements in overall quality.

CJ: Likewise, I think if you have the XM3, there’s no reason to upgrade to the XM4.

In fact, thanks to the XM4 launching, prices for the XM3 have actually dropped quite a bit, making them even better value for money right now since they are still one of the best ANC headphones out there.

Like Rodneil said, the XM4 is more like a refinement of the XM3. If you’re not on a budget, the XM4 is by far the best ANC headphones right now, and really easy to recommend.

How can Sony top this?

Rodneil: For what it’s trying to be, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is probably as good as it gets. The noise cancellation is best-in-class and the sound quality is the type that will make you want to dance like an idiot.

I guess you can say Sony can tweak the design or add more colors. However, from the get-go it seems that’s not how these are being positioned. And Sony has an entirely different line if you want spunkier looking headphones.

Personally, I think it’s a great chance to reboot and rename (please, Sony, please) this line of headphones should the next one try something radically different while also maintaining everything we love about it.

CJ: Remember when I said I didn’t know how Sony could improve on the XM3? Well, I don’t know how Sony could possibly improve on the XM4 either. It has everything you or I could even want in a pair of noise cancelling headphones, and there’s really no flaw to speak of.

I know a lot of people have voiced their opinions on how Sony needs to innovate on their headphone design though, which would be the only way they could really improve on these.

Maybe they could explore a different, cooler design on an alternate model, kind of like how Bose dropped the new Bose 700NC headphones after the last Bose QC35 II headphones.

Questions from Matchketeers

Michael Lascano — Would like to know if noise cancellation is better for virtual meetings vs bose (700 NC)? 

Dornak del Rosario – Microphone comparison of xm3 and xm4 when doing calls.

CJ: IMHO between the Bose 700 and the Sony XM4, I really think the XM4 is the better all around package. Better audio quality, better noise cancellation, better “smart” features. They’re almost the same price but the Sony’s are way better value for money.

For virtual meetings though, I’d wager they sound pretty much identical. It’s only when it comes down to the music listening that you’d hear the difference in soundstage.

Michael Joshua Ano-os —  Does it sound better when playing music on YouTube? 

Rodneil: It’s certainly better than any other headphones or earphones I’ve used in the past. That’s true whether I’m playing music from YouTube, Spotify, or any other app.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is priced as follows: 

  • Philippines — PhP 19,999
  • Malaysia — MYR 1,599
  • Singapore — SG$ 549 
  • US — US$ 349.99 

That’s pretty much the launch price of every other headphone in the same line. For some people, that’s a big ask for a pair of headphones. The thing is, you’re not getting just any other pair of headphones.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is easily the best choice as the premium, everyday headphones. It’s the perfect travel companion — that is, for when we can all actually travel again — and is just a stellar package of sleek and subtle design, astonishing sound quality, and unmatched noise cancellation. You can’t go wrong with these.


In Singapore, Sony is running a trade-in promotion for the WH-1000Xm4. Customers can have SG$ 80 off by trading selected noise cancelling models. Click here to find out the models that qualify and for more details.

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Designed for MMO: Razer unveils Naga V2 Pro

Most adaptable gaming mouse yet

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Razer Naga Pro V2

Razer is not done changing the game this year. The gaming and lifestyle brand has announced the release of the new Naga V2 Pro gaming mouse.

It costs PhP 11,590 and may be purchased through www.razer.com, Shopee, Lazada, and Razer’s local authorized sellers. 

Designed primarily for MMO, the Naga V2 Pro is the company’s most adaptable mouse yet, boasting of:

  • 3 interchangeable side plates
  • 19+1 programmable buttons
  • 22 programmable controls
  • Razer HyperScroll Pro Wheel
  • Razer HyperSpeed Wireless
  • Razer Focus Pro 30K Optical Sensor
  • Razer Optical Mouse Switches Gen-3

A total upgrade of its predecessor, the Naga Pro, the Naga V2 Pro also supports a wide range of charging and connectivity options for low-latency and uninterrupted gaming.

When it comes to its HyperScroll Pro Wheel, the Naga V2 Pro can have up to 6 scroll wheel modes, including a user-customized mode available within Razer Synapse 3.

The custom mode also allows gamers to make countless adjustments for the best scroll feel depending on the task at hand.

The Focus Pro 30K Optical Sensor, meanwhile, enhances the mouse’s aim, smart tracking, asymmetric cut-off, and motion sync.

Razer Naga V2 HyperSpeed

Coming in as another reliable option, Razer has also made the Naga V2 HyperSpeed available.

The slightly more affordable gaming mouse at PhP 6,690 also has Razer’s HyperScroll tech, Focus Pro 30K Optical Sensor, and Mechanical Mouse Switches Gen-2.

It can be powered by just one AA battery and last for up to 400 hours on Bluetooth or 250 hours on HyperSpeed Wireless.

This mouse will be made available by December 2022.

SEE ALSO: Razer Basilisk v3 Pro review: HyperSpeed, hyper responsive

 

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5 reasons why I like using a pair of wireless earbuds

Time to say goodbye to wired earphones!

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JBL Tune 130NC

Wireless has always been the future. The newest wireless earbuds innovation is taking over the market by storm for years now. Even smartphones are choosing to let go of the traditional headphone jacks to promote their proprietary products.

In the midst of all these changes, I find myself tangled up in making a decision between using wired earphones or wireless ones.

But for months, I’ve been using JBL Tune 130NC TWS earbuds and in my experience, I’ve realized that wireless earbuds are miles better than the alternative. Here are five reasons why:

1. Do more than just listen

Here’s a fact: wired headphones limit our mobility. And yes I know, nothing is more annoying than wanting to listen to a song or watch a video, and the moment you take out your wired earphones, it’s all tangled up.

Wireless earbuds give me so much convenience as I can easily get them straight out of my pocket. The JBL Tune 130NC enabled me to do more. Having two earbuds without an interconnecting cable is a much simpler equation.

I can freely walk 30 feet to the kitchen and grab a handful of chips without missing a beat of music or a word from a podcast. Also, a lot of smartphones nowadays don’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, which means true wireless earbuds aren’t just more convenient, they’re actually now a full-blown necessity.

2. Awesome features and functionalities

The fact that the earbuds are wireless does not mean that they will not give you the best sound quality. The JBL Tune 130NC houses 10mm JBL tuned drivers, which deliver a bass-rich audio output. The audio volume is perfect and, hence, does not get uncomfortable or distorted even at 100%.

JBL Tune 130NC

The bass output is excellent and adds a good amount of thump to the audio. A decent pair of wireless earbuds like the JBL Tune 130NC is more than capable of playing back Spotify at its full bit rate. I’m not losing any sound quality through this.

For a long time, wireless earbuds used to sound noticeably worse than their wired counterparts. They just weren’t capable of the same quality of playback as a pair of wired headphones. Now, it comes with longer-lasting battery life! It can survive more than a few stops on the train before needing a quick charge.

The touch controls are nicely placed and can be easily accessed whenever needed. The controls are hyper responsive and work pretty well.

3. Great at compatibility

The moment I opened the case of the JBL Tune 130NC, my smartphone quickly received a notification for pairing and connecting with it. So convenient!

JBL Tune 130NC

But the main highlight of the pairing was its customizable audio settings, allowing you to alter the settings to your liking. You can also choose from a few presets in the JBL app by default. You also get audio and video modes for a lower latency which does a fairly decent job.

Finally, coming to the microphone, the JBL Tune wireless earbuds house four microphones (2 on each earbud) that record good-quality audio. Yes, it does capture a noticeable amount of background noise, but taking some calls or attending meetings is okay.

4. Look stylish and sophisticated

It’s simply impossible to look stylish while wearing a pair of bulky headphones that look absolutely messy & inconvenient. This challenge is never an issue with wireless earbuds, thanks to their slender design.

The first thing to notice about JBL Tune 130NC’s charging case is its minimal look. I got the black color variant which comes with a single-toned body that looks pretty neat. They are sporty in look and design.

They are made in such a way that they will remain firm when you are working out. It fits comfortably in my ear and the classy product designs make them an accessory that adds to its overall look. You will surely love it even if you are a casual user of earbuds. It is also affordable despite its stylish looks and nature.

5. It matches my lifestyle

A major benefit that true wireless earbuds have over a traditional pair of earbuds is that they can be used easily for a wide variety of activities.

For instance, I use this every day while working out, watching K-drama series in the middle of the night, listening to music, and refreshing my core memory of every song that I need to study — basically, anything else you can think of!

Another thing I love about JBL Tune 130NC earbuds is how it comes in three different sizes. The shape of the buds is so versatile. These true wireless earbuds nicely fit in my ears and offer a nice secure fit, which adds a decent amount of noise isolation to them.

JBL Tune 130NC

Is this your Gadgetmatch?

We finally reached the point where you can safely go wire-free with almost no downsides. Whether studying a new song, having a virtual presentation, traveling, or just wanting to be alone with music, the JBL Tune 130NC offers excellent audio quality and decent active noise canceling capabilities which you’ll really love.

Even better, these earbuds are usually ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and an even more secure fit. It all comes down to one highly prized factor: If you can’t get enough of the freedom that true wireless earbuds and their innovative, small, compact, versatile, and easy-to-transport design all delivered, you might wanna check this one out.

The JBL Tune 130NC has a good battery life which means 40 hours of exceptional JBL Pure Bass Sound, coupled with an ergonomic and water-resistant design for all-day comfort in any weather. It also comes with plenty of valuable features like customizable audio settings and touch controls.

Yes, these are not the best-looking earbuds and lack features like in-ear detection or multiple devices connected, but when it comes to sound quality, these wireless earbuds are the best earbuds under the price bracket of PhP 5,999.

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Sony WH-1000XM5: One I can’t travel without

As good as ever

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WH-1000XM5

Sony just doesn’t miss and the WH-1000XM5 is another testament to that. The aforementioned headphones is the latest in Sony’s cream-of-the-crop line of personal audio companions. The WH-1000XM series has consistently gotten rave reviews and the XM5 looks to continue the trend.

Noise cancellation king

WH-1000XM5

The XM5 — that’s what we’ll call it from here on out — is a travel must-have. Its noise cancellation is still king of the hill! Perfect for drowning out all sorts of sounds wherever you may be. One time, I was using this while my brother was in the same room. I didn’t even notice him move at all even though we were in such a cramped space.

Easy controls

WH-1000XM5

You can cover the right ear cup for quick conversations or change to adaptive sound for full awareness, with a single button press.  And most buttons and ports are within reach along the sides of the left ear cup. While the usual controls are still on the right. In this regard, not much has changed, so if you’re upgrading from the XM2 or XM3, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with the controls.

Travel buddy

Oh and it’ll stay powered on, even if you’re on a long haul flight. I used this almost non-stop, fully charged, on a 19-hour flight and we landed with it still having around 20 percent of battery left. That was probably the most intense scenario that I was ever in while using the WH-1000XM5. In the few weeks that followed where I didn’t use it as much, it took about two to three weeks before I came reaching for the power cable.

Superb sound

And the sound is the same high quality we’ve come to expect from Sony. Clean highs. Solid mids. And a bass that just hits the spot. The sound kind of dances in your head, making it extra immersive. Sony produces this really round and full sound that I haven’t quite experienced with any other headphones that I’ve tried. Which isn’t a lot. I’m keen on trying the AirPods Max as well as the ones from Sennheiser. From what I heard, those should present some real competition.

WH-1000XM5

You can also tweak it to your liking on the Sony headphones app. One setting you might want to toggle off is the Speak-to-Chat feature. That’s only because it works a little too well. Too many times I found myself just mumbling sounds like “eh,” or even just humming and the XM5 would cut-off what I’m listening to.

Should you upgrade to this?

This really depends on what pair you’re using at the moment. If you’ve always been a Sony headphones fan and are coming from the same line, it’s likely a worthy upgrade EXCEPT if you’re coming from the XM4. Why? The XM4 is the peak of that particular form-factor. That one’s more compact, requiring less space in your bag. The sound quality and features also don’t stray too far from the WH-1000XM5. In fact, that might be the more economical buy at the moment.

But if you have to have the absolute latest Sony WH-1000XM headphone, then you won’t regret getting your hands on the XM5. It’s great, it is still very light and tough. Plus all the noise cancellation and sound quality goodness you’ve come to expect are better than ever.

If you’re coming from any other headphones, I dare say, this is an instant upgrade. Can’t have it any better than this.

Of course, I’m saying this with the caveat that I have to personally try the AirPods Max which I’ve heard many good things about. That is especially true if you’re also tied into the whole Apple ecosystem.

Other than that, you can’t go wrong with the Sony WH-1000XM5.

 

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