Sony and Bose are two of the biggest names in audio technology, and their flagship wireless earbuds – the WF-1000XM4 and QuietComfort Earbuds – are top contenders for the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy. But which pair is right for you?
In this in-depth comparison, we‘ll examine the key differences between the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds to help you decide which is the better choice.
Overview of the Sony WF-1000XM4
The Sony WF-1000XM4 is the latest iteration of Sony‘s extremely popular 1000X series of wireless noise-cancelling earbuds. Released in June 2021, the WF-1000XM4 improves upon its predecessor, the WF-1000XM3, in almost every way.
Some of the WF-1000XM4‘s highlights include:
- Excellent noise cancellation with Sony‘s proprietary Integrated Processor V1
- Adaptive sound control that adjusts ambient sound settings based on your environment
- Support for high-resolution audio codecs like LDAC and DSEE Extreme upscaling
- IPX4 water and sweat resistance rating
- Up to 8 hours of battery life, 24 hours total with the charging case
- Intuitive touch controls and speak-to-chat feature
- Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity and multipoint pairing
The Sony WF-1000XM4 retails for $279, positioning it in the premium bracket for completely wireless earbuds. For the price, you‘re getting some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds available today.
Overview of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds were released in September 2020 as Bose‘s first stab at true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation.
Here are some of the key features of the QuietComfort Earbuds:
- Proprietary noise cancelling technology from Bose that provides up to 6 levels of NC
- "Bose AR" audio augmented reality platform for immersive experiences
- Weather resistant design with IPX4 water resistance rating
- Up to 6 hours of battery life, 18 hours total with charging case
- Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity
- Capacitive touch controls on each earbud
- Secure fit with removable silicone eartips in 3 sizes
Priced at $279, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds go toe-to-toe with Sony‘s WF-1000XM4 as premium noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds. But how do they actually compare? Let‘s break it down.
One of the main reasons you buy noise-cancelling earbuds is to block out external noise, so this is an extremely important category.
Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds perform very well in noise cancellation, utilizing microphones and advanced algorithms to combat ambient sound.
However, in head-to-head tests, the Sony WF-1000XM4 has consistently outperformed the Bose for noise cancellation capabilities. The Sony earbuds use a new Integrated Processor V1 chip that improves NC performance significantly over the previous generation. Multiple reviewers have noted the Sony earbuds are slightly better at blocking out a wider range of frequencies.
That said, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds also do an excellent job minimizing environmental noise. The difference isn‘t huge, but Sony does seem to have a slight edge here.
With headphones, sound quality is subjective to the listener‘s preferences. However, reviews indicate the WF-1000XM4 and QuietComfort Earbuds are closely matched for audio performance.
The Sony earbuds lean towards a punchy, exciting sound profile with solid bass and sparkling treble. Their LDAC support and DSEE Extreme upscaling allows you to get the most out of high-resolution music too.
Meanwhile, the Bose earbuds promote a more balanced sound signature right out of the box. The sound is vibrant and engaging, with clear mids and highs.
For sound quality alone, there is no definitive winner here. It will come down to your personal taste. Both deliver excellent audio that can be further customized with EQ settings.
Design and Comfort
When it comes to wearing earbuds for extended periods, comfort is crucial. Here is how the Sony and Bose models compare in terms of design and ergonomics:
The Sony WF-1000XM4 has an understated design with a matte finish and rounded edges. The earbuds are fairly small and lightweight, only weighing 7.3 grams each. They come with three sizes of silicone tips for a secure fit. The redesigned eartips are more comfortable and stay in place better than the previous generation.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds have a bulkier design that protrudes more from your ear. They are bigger and heavier than the Sony earbuds, weighing about 8.5 grams each. However, the StayHear Max tips securely lock the earbuds into place and they come in three sizes for optimal fit. The soft silicone tips conform nicely to the ear.
For comfort and long-term wearability, most reviewers give the edge to the Sony WF-1000XM4. The lighter and more compact design feels less intrusive during extended listening sessions. But those with larger ears may find the Bose earbuds more comfortable and stable.
Both earbuds offer IPX4 water resistance, making them suitable for workouts and exercise. The Sonys seem a bit more durable overall.
Controls and Connectivity
It‘s important that your wireless earbuds have intuitive controls and robust connectivity. Here is how Sony and Bose compare in these areas:
The Sony WF-1000XM4 uses touch sensors on each earbud to control playback, volume, calling, noise cancellation, and ambient sound. The touch controls are very responsive. There‘s also support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant. For connectivity, they use Bluetooth 5.2 and support SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs. Multipoint pairing allows connecting to two devices simultaneously.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds rely entirely on touch inputs for controlling music, calls, and noise cancellation. The touch controls work decently but some users report they can be finicky. Voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are supported. Connectivity wise, they use Bluetooth 5.1 and support SBC and AAC codecs. Multipoint pairing is not supported.
For controls and connectivity, the Sony WF-1000XM4 pulls ahead. The touch controls are more accurate and reliable, and having multipoint pairing is a big advantage for convenience. The Sonys also support higher quality LDAC streaming over Bluetooth.
Battery performance is important to consider with any wireless earbuds. Here is how long these two models last on a charge:
The Sony WF-1000XM4 delivers up to 8 hours of listening time with noise cancellation enabled. The charging case provides 2 additional charges for a total of 24 hours. Quick charging via USB-C provides 60 minutes of playback from just 5 minutes of charging.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds manage up to 6 hours per charge with noise cancellation on. The charging case provides 2 extra charges for 18 hours total. A 15-minute quick charge via USB-C yields up to 120 minutes of listening time.
For battery life, the WF-1000XM4 wins handily. You get 2 more hours of listening per charge compared to the Bose earbuds, and the charging case holds 6 more hours total. Both have quick charging capability via USB-C.
Making calls with wireless earbuds is convenient, so call quality is worth examining. Here is how the mic systems compare:
For calls, the Sony WF-1000XM4 utilizes Precise Voice Pickup technology with four microphones and bone-conduction sensors. The noise reduction is excellent, providing clear voice pickup even in loud environments. Most users are happy with the call performance.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds use a 4-microphone system for calls. The noise reduction is decent, but some users report intermittent background noise and static. Call quality seems serviceable but not outstanding.
For call and voice quality, the Sony WF-1000XM4 rates better overall based on reviews. Calls come through more clearly thanks to Sony‘s microphone array and noise reduction algorithms.
Price and Value
With MSRPs of $279 each, the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are priced similarly as premium noise-cancelling earbuds. However, the Sony earbuds tend to provide better value overall:
The Sony WF-1000XM4 often sells for $50-100 less than the QuietComfort Earbuds, making them more affordable.
You get excellent noise-cancelling tech along with great sound, comfort, battery life, and smart features like speak-to-chat and multipoint pairing.
Frequent firmware updates add new functionality like LDAC support and improve performance over time.
The Bose are still very capable earbuds but they cost more while lagging behind Sony in noise cancellation, battery life, and features. Unless you strongly prefer the Bose sound signature, the WF-1000XM4 deliver better bang-for-your-buck.
Verdict: Sony WF-1000XM4 Are the Better Buy
Based on this detailed comparison, our verdict is that the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the better noise-cancelling earbuds overall.
While the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds put up a good fight, the Sony WF-1000XM4 come out ahead in the majority of categories that matter:
- Superior noise cancellation capability
- Lighter and more comfortable fit for long-term wear
- Longer battery life (8 hours vs. 6 hours per charge)
- Multipoint Bluetooth pairing
- Responsive touch controls and smart features like speak-to-chat
- Higher value and more affordable pricing
The Bose aren‘t too far behind in sound quality and call performance. But for shoppers looking for the complete package of comfort, technology, and value, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are hard to beat.
Unless you find the Bose audio tuning or design far more appealing, we recommend choosing the Sony WF-1000XM4 as the better noise-cancelling wireless earbuds overall. They represent the current pinnacle of Sony‘s industry-leading ANC technology in a compact and comfortable design.