Codecs: LDAC, AAC, SBC
Battery life: Eight hours (24 whole)
Weight: 7.3g (per earbud)
Sony’s WF-1000XM4 have been the undisputed class chief for an extended whereas, due to splendidly musical and agile sound high quality and an awesome set of options. They’re cheaper now, too, making them an outstanding deal – however the AirPods Professional 2 are a formidable rival.
- Clear, detailed bass
- Fantastic sense of musicality
- Wonderful battery life
In opposition to
- Lacking multipoint characteristic
- Missing ear tip selections
- Chunky construct
Codecs: AAC, SBC
Battery life: Six hours (30 whole)
Weight: 5.4g (per earbud)
The AirPods Professional 2 shocked us with a brilliantly delicate, dynamic and highly effective sound that now eclipses the Sony XM4. They’re seamless in use, noise-cancelling is massively improved and are clear contenders as they’ve by no means been earlier than.
- Clear, detailed and highly effective sound
- Wonderful noise-cancelling
- Longer battery life
In opposition to
- Many options restricted to iOS units solely
- Customisable ANC modes could be helpful
Apple’s AirPods Professional 2 shocked us with a five-star efficiency, one thing that none of its in-ear buds has achieved till now. The brand new flagship wi-fi buds have taken severe steps to show their value in a really crowded and hotly contested class.
We have already checked out how they evaluate to the unique AirPods Professional and the AirPods 3. However now it is time to put them towards their fiercest competitors but: the Award-winning Sony WF-1000XM4, broadly seen as the most effective wi-fi earbuds ever made.
Are the AirPods Professional 2 now the higher purchase? Or do Sony’s stalwarts nonetheless stand agency? Let’s take a look…
AirPods Professional 2 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: value
Apple might need raised the worth for its newest iPhone (within the UK and Australia at the very least), however that is not the case with its new flagship earbuds. The AirPods Professional 2 promote for a similar £249 / $249 / AU$399 as the unique pair launched at in 2019.
That places them bang on the identical launch value because the Sony WF-1000XM4. However the XM4 have been round some time now, and there are some nice offers available – these buds have been hovering across the £199 mark within the UK since late 2022.
So will you discover a deal on the AirPods Professional 2? Sure, however they seem to be a pittance. You are a tenner off right here and there. Newness + Apple = no massive offers for you. However hold a watch out throughout Black Friday and Cyber Monday as we have seen higher offers then, and keep tuned to our greatest AirPods Professional offers web page – you by no means know your luck.
**Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4**
AirPods Professional 2 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: design
We have seen some fairly out-there wi-fi earbuds through the years, from Samsung’s kidney bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Stay to Sony’s donut-inspired LinkBuds. However the AirPods Professional 2 and Sony XM4 are each extra conventional trying.
Actually, you may battle to inform the distinction between the AirPods Professional 2 and the unique Professionals. They’re the identical measurement, with the identical bud-and-stem design. Even the all-white end stays.
However they don’t seem to be similar to the unique Professional mannequin. The stems characteristic a brand new touch-capacitive layer that allows you to change the amount by swiping up or down. It is the primary time you have been in a position to alter the amount of AirPods with out digging your cellphone out, which is an actual boon.
There is a new XS measurement ear tip for higher match, and the charging case has been up to date – it could now be engraved with a Memoji (see above), has a lanyard loop, and has built-in audio system that emit tones to point charging and enable you to discover it if misplaced. Just like the earbuds, it is rated IPX4 for water- and sweat-resistance.
Spectacular, actually. However the XM4 aren’t any slouch.
They do not have stems just like the AirPods Professional 2 – as an alternative, Sony has opted for a spherical design that sits extra contained in the ear opening. This was apparently primarily based on buyer suggestions about their predecessors, the XM3, in addition to Sony’s personal analysis into the human ear.
The XM4 earbuds have a matte end with small brass accents across the mic and sensor holes including a splash of color. They arrive in black or silver, whereas the AirPods Professional 2 solely are available in white.
They too are rated IPX4 for fundamental water resistance. However they solely include three sizes of ear tricks to the Professional 2’s 4. The XM4’s ear ideas are created from polyurethane, which seems like a cross between silicone and foam. It provides them a good, secure match, whereas the hundreds of tiny bubbles within the ideas assist cut back and dissipate noise.
What about controls? The outer floor of every earpiece doubles as a touchpad, whose operate you possibly can customise utilizing the Headphones Join app (you possibly can change quantity, management playback and change between noise-cancelling and ambient sound modes).
It is value noting that some on our assessment crew have discovered Sony’s bulkier, heavier earbuds (7.3g every) trickier to suit and stay securely within the ear, whereas Apple’s extra light-weight design (5.4 per earbud) is way simpler to accommodate usually.
Similar to the AirPods Professional 2, the Sony XM4’s charging case is supplied for wi-fi charging, however in contrast to Apple’s, it is not waterproof. So watch out with it across the pool or on the seaside.
**Winner: Apple AirPods Professional 2**
AirPods Professional 2 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: options
As the most effective wi-fi earbuds lately, the Sony XM4 should not in need of options. These start earlier than you have even began utilizing the headphones, with the air-tightness check utilizing Sony’s Headphones Join app. It should play a check tone and say whether or not the earbuds are completely in place or if it’s essential make any changes.
Sony’s 360 Actuality Audio format can be out there by means of the app, utilizing suitable streaming companies reminiscent of Tidal and Deezer. The app additionally tells you the way a lot battery stays in each the buds and the case (the buds pack eight hours, and the case one other 16 hours).
Fast Consideration mode drops the amount of what you are listening to, so you possibly can chat with out eradicating the earbuds, whereas Communicate-to-Chat does the same job however is triggered by the sound of your voice. Very intelligent.
Contained in the earbuds is a brand new DAC and analogue amplifier together with the Built-in Processor V1. Sony’s DSEE Excessive audio processor with Edge-AI can be current and proper, to upscale low-bitrate music recordsdata to close hi-res high quality.
You aren’t getting assist for the aptX HD codec, however the XM4 do play good with Sony’s LDAC format, which, streamed over Bluetooth from a suitable supply (Sony Walkmans, choose Android ‘telephones and moveable hi-res gamers), permits hi-res audio recordsdata as much as 24-bit/96kHz to be transmitted at information charges of as much as 990kbps.
Sony has additionally aimed to ship clearer name high quality with new options, together with beam-forming and the usage of a bone conduction sensor that stops the mics from choosing up distracting ambient sounds whilst you’re speaking. There’s even an automated wind noise discount mode that makes an attempt to chop out swirls of noise passing by means of the headset and into your ears.
All of this works with Sony’s Exact Voice Pickup know-how for spectacular name high quality.
In addition they work with Google’s Quick Pair know-how to sync tremendous rapidly with Android telephones (iOS customers miss out right here, we’re afraid). Nevertheless it’s a disgrace they nonetheless do not share the Sony WH-1000XM5’s multipoint characteristic, which might allow them to pair to 2 Bluetooth units concurrently. That characteristic is reportedly on the playing cards, however we’re nonetheless ready for it to manifest in 2023.
The AirPods Professional 2 are equally filled with flagship options. The Professional 2 include the same ear tip match check that you just entry out of your iPhone’s settings (the truth is, Apple pioneered this) and pair near-instantly with Apple units.
Just like the XM4, they’ve energetic noise-cancelling (ANC), but in addition add a brand new Adaptive Transparency mode which processes 48,000 instances per second to determine and cut back loud, harsh, high-decibel noise round you reminiscent of a passing lorry or a siren.
Inside every earbud is a brand new customized low-distortion, high-excursion audio driver, transducer and excessive dynamic vary amplifier. Powering the buds is Apple’s new and highly effective H2 chip, which ends up in higher ANC, longer battery life and improved sound high quality – there’s extra on this within the respective sections under.
Apple has additionally repositioned the mics and vents within the AirPods Professional 2 for improved airflow, affecting the effectiveness of ANC and general sound high quality. The inward-facing mic has additionally been redesigned, working with voice enhancement algorithms so your voice sounds extra pure by means of calls.
Whereas they will not pause if you begin talking, the AirPods Professional 2 have improved ‘pores and skin detect’ – which implies songs pause extra instinctively if you’ve taken an earbud out (and resume playback when positioned again in).
The Professional 2 assist Apple’s Spatial Audio tech with dynamic head monitoring, and this time its immersive impact could be personalised. Utilizing the TrueDepth digicam on an iPhone (operating iOS 16 working system or greater), the know-how can tune the sound and create personalised audio profiles particularly primarily based on somebody’s ear form and measurement. Fairly neat – if you may make the difficult scanning course of work.
Battery life will get longer for the AirPods Professional 2. Whereas the six hours you get from the buds lag behind the Sony XM4, the Professional 2’s 24-hour case battery packs eight extra hours than the XM4’s. Astounding.
You additionally get adaptive EQ, Audio Sharing (the flexibility to play audio concurrently by means of two units of AirPods) and Auto-pause.
It is a formidable characteristic set for the AirPods Professional 2. However bear in mind – in case you use Android fairly than an Apple machine, you may miss out on a few of their greatest options.
And fairly disappointingly, the brand new AirPods Professional 2 nonetheless do not assist high-res or any higher-quality codecs, which is at odds with the lossless tracks out there from Apple Music’s library. The Professional 2 persist with the fundamental AAC codec for Bluetooth streaming, which lags behind the aptX HD and LDAC codecs which are in a position to transmit extra information wirelessly. Disgrace.
**Winner: Sony WF-1000XM4**
AirPods Professional 2 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: sound high quality
The XM4 launched in the summertime of 2021, which is a very long time in the past when it comes to wi-fi earbuds. However since then, they’ve seen off competitors from all comers to reign supreme as our greatest wi-fi earbuds. And so they’ve finished so largely due to their excellent sound high quality.
Bass is incredible, being clear and detailed, and virtually dripping in texture. In the meantime, voices are laid naked with nuance and emotion. There’s readability throughout the board and a way of rhythmic precision that enables the Sonys to modify tempo effortlessly. They sound even higher than the XM3, which have been our earlier favorite wi-fi earbuds, and maintain their very own towards the newer Bose QC Earbuds II. Sony’s on a roll.
The Professional 2 are the primary in-ear AirPods to earn 5 stars from us, with sound high quality taking a severe, grown-up step than earlier than. They keep the originals’ impartial sonic profile and readability with voices, however with added weight, better element and even higher dynamic subtlety.
The efficiency is participating and entertaining proper from the second we begin listening. It’s a richer, extra highly effective sound, with extra layers and textures to dynamic shifts, holding you hooked on a tune.
There is a excellent sense of drive, too. The AirPods Professional 2 are rhythmically agile and nimble, whereas nonetheless sounding splendidly open and ethereal.
However do they greatest the Sonys? Regardless of the dearth of any higher-quality codecs, the AirPods Professional 2 ship a extra nuanced, strong and dynamic efficiency, with a spacious presentation that is extraordinary in wi-fi earbuds.
**Winner: Apple AirPods Professional 2**
AirPods Professional 2 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: noise-cancellation
Apple’s H2 chip and new “optimised” placement of the acoustic vents and mics within the Professional 2 mix to supply energetic noise-cancelling that is reportedly twice as efficient in contrast with the unique Professionals.
And the Professional 2’s noise-cancelling is extremely efficient certainly. It is a massive step up above the earlier mannequin, with background noise decreased to a mere murmur. It’s a cushty impact, too, they usually do an awesome job of letting you get pleasure from your music with out a lot distraction from the world round you.
It is a disgrace there aren’t any levels of ANC to select from or customise. Nevertheless, the brand new Adaptive Transparency characteristic works effectively, taking the sting off the harsher screeches and scrapes on the London Underground.
The Sony XM4’s noise-cancelling is great, too. We stated in our assessment: “you may battle to search out higher noise cancellation at this stage”. Whereas that now not stays the case as the brand new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II have taken the mantle as the most effective ANC earbuds, the Sony are nonetheless greater than passable in damping down exterior noise.
There’s little or no distinction between them right here, however to our ears, AirPods Professional 2 are a tad extra snug to hearken to with ANC turned on. There’s barely any of that “vacuum” feeling that ANC normally brings, which makes us overlook the mode is even on at instances.
**Winner: Apple AirPods Professional 2**
AirPods Professional 2 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: verdict
That is one which sparked many debates at What Hello-Fi? HQ. Each wi-fi earbuds have impressed us since their respective launches, and the Sonys particularly must be applauded for nonetheless being one in all our favourites, practically two years on.
The Apple AirPods Professional 2 win within the all-important classes of sound high quality and ANC, however the Sonys at the moment are cheaper than earlier than, which means you get a superb pair of flagship buds at an awesome value. It is why now we have no downside recommending the WF-1000XM4 (till a brand new model comes out, hopefully quickly) even when they now not take the highest podium.
It is clear, nonetheless, that the newer AirPods Professional 2 have come on leaps and bounds in relation to sound high quality. Their efficiency is richer, extra open and extra detailed than the Sony XM4, and whereas each are efficient noise-cancellers, the Professional 2 supply a extra snug expertise.
Learn our full Apple AirPods Professional 2 assessment
And our full Sony WF-1000XM4 assessment
These are the greatest wi-fi earbuds you should buy
I spoke to Apple to search out out the key behind the AirPods Professional 2’s audio success