Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose NC 700: Which is better for you?

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4 (Image credit: Sony)

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 provides the best active noise cancelation (ANC) on the market, and have been improved in all the right areas from its predecessor. Despite the inability to replace the ear pads along not being able to listen and charge at the same time, these are the best headphones on the market right now.

Sony WH-1000XM4

New kid on the block

Industry-leading noise cancelation
Built-in sensor for wearing detection
Connect two devices at the same time
Long-lasting battery
Foldable design
Cannot listen and charge at the same time
Can't replace ear pads yourself

Bose NC 700

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 render

The Bose NC 700 provide quite a few improvements over its predecessor, including improved noise cancellation and the addition of USB-C charging. However, these feel like a step back and can't really hold up against Sony's WH-1000XM4s.

Bose NC 700

A close second

Customizable Noise Cancelation
USB-C charging
Replaceable ear pads
Can listen and charge at the same time
More affordable
Non-foldable design
Shorter battery life

For the last few years, Sony and Bose have been battling for the right to be crowned the best noise-canceling headphone king, with solid offerings on boths sides. This has culminated, at the time of this writing, in the battle of the Sony WH-1000XM4 vs Bose NC 700, the latest headphones from both of these companies. Will Sony keep its stranglehold on the market with the new version, or has Bose reclaimed the crown?

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose NC 700 Battle of the flagships

Sony WH-1000XM4

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

In a straight comparison, there aren't many differences between the two. Both the Sony WH-1000XM4s and Bose NC700s feature ANC, quick charge capabilities, can connect to multiple devices at the same time, and sport touch controls. Luckily, Sony also packed in some new features that could be worthwhile if you're looking at the WH-1000XM4s vs the Bose NC 700.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WH-1000XM4Bose NC 700
Weight8.95 oz8.96 oz
Wearing Detection
Active Noise Cancellation
Battery Life30 hours (ANC on), 38 hours (ANC off)20 hours
Quick Charge10 minutes provides 5 hours of playback15 minutes provides 3.5 hours of playback
Charging CableUSB-CUSB-C
Bluetooth Version5.05.0
Foldable Design
Ambient Noise Mode
Multi-Device Connection
Smart Assistant SupportGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa, SiriGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa (built-in)

The Bose NC 700s headphones have been on the market for a bit longer than Sony's latest offering, but they're still on par with each other in terms of what's on offer. It's clear that Bose wanted to go a different route in the design department, opting to get rid of the ultra-convenient foldable design. Instead, the NC 700s feature a more premium build, making it impossible for the headband to be folded in the same manner as the WH-1000XM4s. Sony stuck with the design that works and didn't try to re-invent the wheel with its latest headphones. You get the same touch controls, soft matte finish, and industry-leading ANC that you have been accustomed to for a couple generations.

Battery life is another huge sticking point when considering these over-the-ear headphones, and that's where Sony has the easy advantage.

Smart assistant support is available on both sets of cans, but the Bose NC 700 have the upper hand as the smart assistants are built-in. The Sony WH-1000XM4s rely on your smartphone in order to interact with the likes of Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri. This is fine, but we would have liked to see Sony follow suit with Bose.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Source: Bose (Image credit: Source: Bose)

USB-C charging is onboard for both the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the NC 700, along with quick charging. However, Sony's headphones get a leg up in regards to charging since a 10-minute charge will provide up to five hours of playback. On the other hand, Bose's offering will give you up to 3.5 hours of playback with a 15-minute top off.

Sony also has the easy advantage in terms of overall battery life. The WH-1000XM4s are rated for up to 30 hours when ANC is enabled, and 38 hours if noise cancelation is disabled. Bose's NC 700 are rated for up to 20 hours of battery life, regardless of whether you have ANC enabled or not.

Sony joins the multi-device connection game, where Bose already exceed expections with the NC 700s and older models.

It's worth mentioning that you can continue listening to your music while charging the NC 700, but the WH-1000XM4s will turn themselves off automatically if the charging begins. Bose states that you can use either the 3.5mm headphone jack or use the NC 700s over Bluetooth, even if they are actively being charged. Meanwhile, you'll have to put the WH-1000XM4s aside while they charge.

One feature that Sony fans have been hoping for, but Bose already provided, was multi-device connection support. This makes it possible to have your headphones paired to two different devices simultaneously and switch between them seamlessly. The WH-1000XM4s are the first Sony headphones to sport this functionality, and it's more of a quality-of-life improvement that Bose already took advantage of back with the QC 35 IIs and was included with the NC 700s.

In addition to bringing multi-device support finally, the WH-1000XM4s bring something to the table not offered by Bose. Inside of the left ear cup, you may notice a little cutout. This is for the new Wear Detection sensor, which automatically pauses your media whenever taking the WH-1000XM4s off. Those who have been using recently-released true wireless headphones will be familiar with this functionality, and it's great to see it become available on some over-ear cans.

Looking past the "portability" of these two headphones, the Bose NC 700 get the nod when it comes to audio quality. Despite not supporting the same audio codecs as the WH-1000XM4s, the Bose generally have a better audio profile. Instead of being heavy on bass, the NC 700 feature a more balanced combination, with just a little bass and toned-down treble.

With Sony's DSEE Extreme audio software, the WH-1000XM4s improve audio quality, but not enough to take over the NC 700s.

That's not to say that the sound profile of the WH-1000XM4s is bad or anything. The focus is more on the bass and noise cancelation, instead of providing a flat sound profile. Despite the differing sound profiles, Sony has taken strides to improve the WH-1000XM4s thanks to the DSEE Extreme audio software developed by the company's Music Entertainment portion. This will not only upscale your compressed music, but it also intelligently recognizes the different instruments and types of music to provide a more realistic listening experience.

Sony WH-1000XM4 vs. Bose NC 700 Picking the right one for you

Sony WH-1000XM4

Source: Sony (Image credit: Source: Sony)

Looking at the spec sheet and feature list, there are a lot of similarities between the Sony WH-1000XM4 vs Bose NC 700. So how are you to decide which flagship headphones are the right fit for your ears?

It comes down to noise cancellation, sound quality, and portability

Sony was already the industry-leader when it came to noise cancelation, and the WH-1000XM4s have a new Bluetooth SoC to improve that by analyzing your surroundings to help fine-tune the audio so that right noises are canceled out. The aforementioned SoC also aims to help improve the audio quality, but the sound may still be a bit too bass heavy for some.

If you want the best-in-class ANC paired up with Sony's improved sensors, then you won't be disappointed with the WH-1000XM4s. There's the added benefit of the folding design, making portability much easier than with the Bose NC 700. Sony knocked it out of the park with these headphones, and it'll be interesting to see what's to come from both companies.

With all of the similarities between the Sony WH-1000XM4 vs Bose NC 700, it really comes down to personal preference and what your needs are. Those who want superior sound quality and a more industrial design, will be more than happy with what the NC 700 have to offer. However, if you want a little of everything, including ANC, a foldable design, and wear detection, then the WH-1000XM4s are perfect.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.