How Good is Sony WH-1000XM4 for Gym Workouts?

I used the XM3 myself for my gym sessions and spontaneous runs for about one year. I didn’t run into any problem. These headphones are still one hundred percent functional. Now that the newer version of this headphone is out, there have been questions stacking up regarding how good the Sony WH-1000XM4 is for exercises.

We totally get how loathing an intense workout can get, so to ease the pain and hard work, one is bound to blast some music. But how long are you supposed to listen to the same old “Wake Me Up” by Avicii or Harlem Shake on and on through the gym speakers?

You need to have your own playlist on for motivation that would also prevent you from eavesdropping on your gym mate’s usual drama. Wireless headphones are the perfect choice because you can do any type of exercise wearing them. 

And we cannot mention the Sony WH-1000XM4 enough, which is an absolute class of a headphone. But it is sturdy enough to hold against sweaty workouts? Let’s dive in for an answer.

1. Why Choose a Wireless Headphone?

We have posted a massive guide on our blog about how you can find your perfect headphones for working out and talked about reasons to get a wireless one. Let’s recap a bit.

We know how much of a hassle it is to do cardio and other workouts when you’ve just joined the gym. From lifting weights to running on the treadmill, a wired mess is not welcomed by any kind of person.

Wired headphones are not only hard to tackle, but the sudden energy bursts produced by the frequencies can decrease the longevity of the product. There are also chances where you might end up in unavoidable accidents and hurt yourself. In the worst-case scenario, your brand new expensive wired headphones might even get destroyed. 

So, wireless headphones are the only best choice that would stay put in one place even when running or in an active state. 

This Sony WH-1000XM4 is an extended version of True Wireless headphones which means you only need a connecting bridge between the two listening outputs. But you can still control the volume, use the mic, and listen to music.

2. How is the Bluetooth Connectivity on This?

As this is a wireless overhead headphone, it obviously connects or pairs up with your phone via a Bluetooth connection. Let’s get a detailed view of that then.

This headphone rocks a Bluetooth 5.0 that can support SBC, LDAC, and AAC that would ensure you are getting a top-notch streaming quality in even poor stable connections. 

But if your phone doesn’t support these codecs, then worry not because the SBC is set as default, and your audio will automatically be converted into SBC that most Bluetooth devices share.

And if you’re one of those tech minimalists who don’t use a smartphone, then you can also connect a 3.5mm audio cable. But that wouldn’t be very ‘smart’ as a gym-friendly headphone. 

The range is also fairly good on this, and you can easily roam around your gym floor (during times when you leave your phone in the closet) with no skip or delay in between.

Pairing this headphone with your phone is very easy as you can just hold the power button down and select the headphone from your phone. You can pair multiple devices on this, and it will start connecting to them automatically after the first time.

3. How Good is the Battery Life on This?

Most people often seem pretty worried about the battery life of Bluetooth devices as they are not connected to any power source.

But you can trust us when we say that the battery life on the Sony WH-1000XM4 is fairly good. You get about 30 hours of playing time with the noise-canceling turned on and 38 hours approximately without it.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 comes with USB-C charging port, and they have also included a quick charge feature. In just 10 minutes of quick charge, you can listen to music for about 5 hours which is obviously a lot more than a single workout session.

4. How Does It Actually Sound in Ears?

This time Sony has used 40mm drivers on their headphones that give an ambient and well-balanced sound.

Whether you are listening to sad lo-fi music or electric guitar rock, this headphone will give you details of every instrument on the music through their powerful bass system.

As the headphone has the noise-canceling feature, Sony included Dual Noise Sensor Tech that uses two mics to omit the noise by sucking it up. With QN1 noise-canceling processor, the cancellation of noise is rather very quick at 700 times per second speed.

This feature elevates your musical experience in the gym in a way that most headphones fail to. With these headphones plugged in at a high volume (not recommended for longer use, though), you can dive deep into your workout without paying any heed to your surroundings.

The microphone on this headphone is also pretty good, with a slight lag in the frequency that you would find in most Bluetooth headphones. But it is slightly better than the previous versions.

Now, the mic might not be that great for recordings or podcasts, but it is enough for emergency Zoom calls or meetings that you might need to attend in between your exercises.

We highly recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4 for running because you can speed up a lot with some uplifting music playing in your ears with the noise cancellation feature turned on.

5. Is the Design Well-built for Rugged Workouts?

Finally, we come to one of the most important factors that the design will advocate for the heavy workout sessions you do in the gym. 

The Sony WH-1000XM4 has a very modern, subtle finish that looks sleek without being too gaudy. And the material on this thing is high-quality plastic but in no way looks poorly built.

At present, you get three basic color options for this headphone on Amazon. And the chic look of this headphone blends in with any activewear you are planning to wear during your gym sessions.

The earcups on this headphone are also super comfy that don’t hold your ears tightly packed in one place. Sony also changed their SoC for improved noise cancellation, which improves the design a lot and makes it a better fit for everyone.

Now coming to the part where you’ll go, oh bummer! The resistance of the Sony WH-1000XM4 against water isn’t very good. Rather we would specify that Sony has recommended keeping these headphones away from any contact with water.

Unfortunately, these headphones are not even splash-proof or water-resistant, which is a bit of an issue for use at the gym. You are going to sweat a lot, and that might technically cause damage to the headphones.

So, our recommendation would be to try to keep these bad boys away from any kind of water and/or try not to get it too much drenched in sweat. We know you will sweat, just take them off to dry up a bit, please.

While you don’t get much support from the Sony WH-1000XM4 against sweat, it does not have any other cons to it. If it helps, I used my XM3 for more than a year in the gym full-on for 2 hours a day and this pair still sounds like day one.

6. Alternatives

Perhaps you are still not convinced and there are tons of reasons why you shouldn’t be. Look nowhere else, we got you covered. Here are some of the alternatives that are made for workouts while still giving you a similar music experience.

Did you know?

There are certain kinds of headphones that aid in sleeping. In fact, some of them are so good that they will make an 8-hour sleep feel like 16 hours. If you think I am bluffing, check out our post on sleeping headphones where we reviewed some of the well-known products in that category.

6.1 Sony WF-SP800N

If you don’t want a huge overhead headphone for your workout sessions, we would say that these Sony In-ear headphones are pretty great. 

You get these compact Bluetooth headphones that come in three vivid color ranges. Even though they are compact and lightweight, the product is heavy duty in comparison. Especially in terms of performance and audio quality.

With about 9 hours of continuous music play and extra bass to make you feel like you are in some kind of arena. You can also enable Alexa and they even have the noise-canceling feature that most people adore!

PROS
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Deep base and rich highs
  • IP55 water resistant
  • Battery life 9 hours (without case) and 18 hours (with case) with noice cancellation activated
CONS
  • Limited on-device controls
  • The case of this size should have carried more power

6.2 AfterShokz Aeropex

Here we have this sports belt bone conduction headphone that is the perfect choice for those that are always losing their wireless in-ear headphones. 

With the bone conduction technology, the audio travels through your cheekbones rather than the traditional ear canals. This can be a whole new experience if you’re trying this out for the first time. 

With two basic color options, this headphone is re-engineered to provide you with some of the best sounds with 50% less sound leakage. You get unique magnetic charging cables with this headphone.

Taking up about 2 hours for a single full charge, you can continuously play music for 8 hours and keep it on standby mode for 10 hours.

PROS
  • Bone conduction headphone
  • Lightest among the batch
  • Zero discomfort compared to traditional in-ear headphones
  • IP67 water resistant
  • Battery life 8 hours
CONS
  • Ears are open letting environmental noises to get in (unless you use the provided earplugs)
  • Sound quality is still not on par with premium headphones

6.3 Apple AirPods Pro

Lastly, we have this premium option that most people fancy to own. Even though Apple products cost a lot more than usual brands, they don’t really provide you basic products.

You get active noise cancellation on this thing that gives you ambient and peaceful time if you are someone that likes to meditate in the gym.

One great thing about the Apple AirPods Pro is that they are sweat and water-resistant. So, you can easily make them your gym gear without worrying about ruining them.

You get three sizes of silicone tips with this headphone, and this thing will last about 24 hours on continuous play. So, that is something that makes some people spill water even though they cost a fortune for most people.

PROS
  • Fantastic active noice cancellation and transparency mode
  • Secure fit for intensive workouts
  • IPX4 water resistant
  • Battery life 4.5 hours (without case) and 24 hours (with case) with noice cancellation activated
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Limited on-device controls

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