The world of wireless noise-canceling headphones has become extremely competitive. Various brands now offer versions of top-quality headphones. Two of the most popular ANC headphones are the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4.
Bose has long been at the forefront of active noise cancellation (ANC) technology. For a while, they stood unchallenged as the go-to brand for those looking to cut out ambient noise. But, to quote the great Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.”
Other brands have stepped up…
Now, they, too, offer premium noise-canceling headphones that pose a real challenge to Bose’s dominance in this market. The standout contender is the Sony WH-1000XM4. The previous version was outstanding headphones in their own right. Well, the good news is that the WH-1000XM4 is an upgrade on its predecessor. But are they good enough to challenge the Bose 700?
Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. In my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Sony WH-1000XM4 comparison, I’m going to compare them category by category to help you decide which ANC headphones are the best for you.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones bear a striking resemblance to their predecessors, the XM3 model. However, the earpads are slightly larger, and the overall design has been tweaked to look more seamless. The result is a refined and sophisticated design.
The rubberized matte finish replaces the plastic material used in the XM3. This gives the headphones a more premium feel. You can opt for either a black or silver finish. Attention to detail can be seen in the attractive copper accents and embossed logo. If you like a slick, adult aesthetic, the WH-1000XM4 will have you grinning from ear to ear.
On the other hand…
The Bose 700 headphones have a truly refined and slim design that wins the prize for the most premium look. Choices of finish include silver, black, and something called ‘soapstone,’ which is a limited edition.
The “invisible” hinges and beautifully curved stainless steel headband create a truly stylish look. One that, frankly, the XM4s can’t quite compete with. If style is a main factor in your purchase, the Bose 700 is sure to grab your attention.
If you travel often, note that the Sony headphones fold neatly for easier portability. Conversely, the Bose 700 headphones are non-folding, as there is no hinge in the headband. However, the ear cups are hinged and lie flat in the case. This does make the Bose carry-case a bit larger, though.
As far as comfort goes, both headphones rest lightly on the head and stay in place without causing any immediate issues. This is probably because they are both relatively lightweight at an identical 254 grams.
Both headphones have extremely comfortable ear pads covered in luxurious leather with well-padded headbands. However, the XM4 ear pads have a wider cutout allowing extra room for ventilation and those with larger ears. The clamping force is similar on both, with excellent stability. However, after a few hours of use, the Bose 700 headband starts to apply a little pressure causing mild discomfort.
Both the Bose 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4 are supremely comfortable headphones. But, Sony’s edge it because they can be used for lengthy sessions without any discomfort.
Both headphones are technology-rich. However, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is a bit more advanced, utilizing some remarkable AI capabilities.
Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones advanced technological features…
They come with a DSEE Extreme Audio Processor that elevates compressed audio to almost Hi-Res quality. It also analyses the music as it’s playing using artificial intelligence to recreate a more precise sound.
Another notable feature is ‘Speak-to-Chat,’ which pauses your audio when you start a conversation, making it convenient to interact without having to take off the headphones. The Bose 700 has a comparable ‘Conversation Mode.’ However, it requires manual activation by pressing a button.
The Sony WH-1000XM4, on the other hand, possesses ‘Adaptive Intelligent Control’…
This recognizes your preferred surroundings and adjusts audio settings accordingly. They also have what’s called ‘Wear Detection,’ automatically pausing audio when you remove the headphones and starting it again when put back on.
The XM4’s array of innovative features also includes the ‘Atmospheric Pressure Optimiser.’ This adjusts the audio to cater to high-altitude environments, which is ideal for those who frequently travel by air. It’s a clear win for the Sony WH-1000XM4 in this department.
The Bose 700 offers a battery life of 20 hours with noise-canceling activated. But there’s no way of turning it off, so that’s your maximum. It’s a decent battery life, but a long way from being top in the market. Meanwhile, the Sony WH-1000XM4 boasts an impressive 30 hours of battery life with noise-canceling on and a staggering 38 hours with it off.
In a rush?
Bose’s quick charge function gives you 3.5 hours of power from just a 15-minute charge. This isn’t bad, but Sony offers a faster solution. With just ten minutes of charging, the Sony headphones provide a solid five hours of playtime.
For reasons known only to Bose, they failed to increase the battery life from the 700’s predecessor, the Quiet Comfort 35 II. On long-haul journeys, you may find yourself needing to make use of the quick charge facility if you go with Bose.
Bose has tried to compensate for the lack of extended battery life by launching a charging case for the headphones. This provides the listener with an additional 40 hours. Currently, buying the case as part of a package with the headphones will save you around $50 over buying it separately. Still, having to spend extra to bridge the gap is not ideal.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Sony WH-1000XM4 – ANC Performance
When it comes to active noise cancellation, the Bose 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4 are arguably the best-performing ANC headphones in their class. While the XM4 boasts exceptional sound-blocking capabilities, the Bose 700 remains top of the pile when it comes to this category.
The Bose 700 boasts a highly sophisticated eight-microphone system. Six microphones are dedicated to superbly blocking out ambient noise. Bose has also improved its algorithms, providing users with ten levels of customizable noise cancellation to control the level of external sound entering the soundstage.
This combination of advanced technology results in a sound experience that erases common distractions such as loud office environments. And it effectively muffles high-frequency sounds like police sirens. These headphones are also a dream to use on flights thanks to their exceptional noise-canceling abilities. Engine noises during a flight are virtually eliminated.
That’s Bose; what about Sony?
The improvement in active noise canceling (ANC) between the Sony WH-1000xM3 and WH-1000xM4 may not be massive. But, the slight modifications Sony made have proven to be enough to give the Bose 700 some serious competition.
The Sony headphones boast a QN1 HD Noise Cancelling Processor, Dual Noise Sensor technology, and dual feed-forward microphones, which work in harmony to minimize even the most distracting noises. Additionally, Sony has incorporated a Noise-Cancelling Optimizer.
This automatically changes the ANC level depending on the noise level of your surroundings. And it’s surprisingly effective at making the right adjustments.
On full ANC mode…
The Sony XM4 headphones are as good as the Bose 700 headphones at blocking out most ambient noises. Especially middle and low frequencies. One area where Bose ANC 700 headphones are better than Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones is in blocking out higher-frequency sounds. Crying babies on that flight will be a distant memory.
Both headphones also have great ambient listening modes. These modes do the opposite of the ANC technology by amplifying the ambient noise, giving the listener awareness of what is going on around them.
Finally, when it comes to taking calls, the Bose 700’s work more effectively at blocking out background noise. And the four dedicated mics help the caller hear your voice with amazing clarity. Overall, Bose is still the industry leader when it comes to noise cancellation.
Both headphones deliver some of the best sound quality you will find in this price range. But, the listening experience is a very different one.
Allow me to explain…
Audiophiles may prefer the dynamic and balanced sound of the Bose 700s that allows the details of each frequency range to come through. It’s a neutral soundscape that doesn’t favor any part of the range, allowing the music to be heard as it was recorded.
Personally, the depth and bass that the XM4’s huge 40mm drivers bring to the table add a much-needed level of punch and confidence that the Bose 700’s lack. Combine that with the QN1 HD noise-canceling processor, and they form a powerful duo that delivers energetic, crystal clear, and distortion-free audio.
Furthermore, the headphones’ default sound profile doesn’t need a whole lot of tweaking. Yet, it can be customized in the accompanying app if you so desire. Audiophiles may disagree, but when it comes to audio quality, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is a superior set of headphones. They are simply miles more fun.
The Bose Music App for both Android and iOS operating systems allows for exceptionally detailed management of the ANC/Ambient modes. However, it doesn’t provide much beyond that.
The app lets users choose Alexa or Google Assistant as their preferred voice assistant, which they can activate by pressing a specific button on the headphones. For iOS devices, Siri is available. Apart from this, there are a few slight adjustments that one can perform in the settings menu. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to alter the EQ at all, which is disappointing.
As for the Sony XM4s…
You’ll find the Sony Headphones Connect software. It’s accessible for both Android and iOS and has way more supplementary audio features. These include 360 Reality Audio, an immersive audio effect that aims to provide a spatial listening experience akin to being in an auditorium.
Furthermore, there’s an Adaptive Sound Control option that personalizes the sound performance according to your surroundings. To be precise, the overall sound quality and volume will be automatically adjusted based on the level of ambient noise around you. Audiophiles will probably prefer to disable both 360 Sound and Adaptive Sound Control, which can be done.
In contrast, the five-band EQ is way more functional and provides Sony users with much more control over the audio compared to Bose. In addition, there are modifications you can make via the settings, including assigning various functions to the Custom button on the left ear cup. It’s another clear win for the Sony WH-1000XM4. Bose has a lot of catching up to do in this department.
The Verdict – Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Sony WH-1000XM4
|Rating||Sony WH-1000XM4||Bose 700|
|Battery Life (15)||10||7|
|Active Noise cancellation (20)||18||20|
|Audio quality (20)||18||16|
|Value for money (10)||9||8|
Curious About Other Sony and Bose Headphones?
If so, check out our in-depth Bose SoundLink 2 Around-Ear Wireless Headphone Review, our Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review, our Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless Review, our Sony WH-XB910N Review, our Sony WH-XB900N Review, and our Sony MDR-7506 Review for more great headphones you can buy in 2023.
Also, have a look at our detailed reviews of the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Headphones for Music, the Best Headphones for Hip-Hop, the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones with Volume Control, and the Best Headphones Under $200 currently on the market.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 vs Sony WH-1000XM4 – Conclusion
As you can see from our comparison chart above, this titanic head-to-head comparison of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 went to a judge’s decision, and the winner is the…
Presenting exceptional noise-cancellation, extended battery life, magnificent audio quality, and many intelligent features, it’s clear that the Sony WH-1000XM4 is the superior all-around headphone. If you’re okay with their more conventional design, the XM4s are an obvious choice. This is particularly true if you can find them at a discounted price.
That being said, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are also a great value for money. They may not have as many features as the XM4, but they are a better-looking set of cans that will turn heads wherever you wear them. Moreover, Bose’s noise-cancellation capability is still unrivaled. Although, Sony is getting mighty close.
Ultimately though, despite the many positive attributes of both models, it’s the outstanding Sony WH-1000XM4s that gets my vote.
Until next time, happy listening.