If you’re on the hunt for a pair of true wireless earbuds that sound great, fit comfortably, and offer active noise cancellation, you’ve probably come across the Sony WF-1000XM4.
They’re our pick for the best wireless earbuds you can buy today, and haven’t been beaten since they launched in 2021 thanks to their full-bodied and eloquent sound, strong noise cancellation, and impressive call quality.
However, some brands have come close to swiping Sony’s status as the best earbuds manufacturer on the planet - and one of those brands is Nura.
Nura’s NuraTrue are the Australian company’s first true wireless earbuds, and they’re among the most customizable in-ear headphones we’ve ever tested. And, like the WF-1000XM4, they offer an excellent audio performance, ANC, and a great design.
While it’s great to have two very good options to choose from, it doesn’t make picking a pair of wireless earbuds any easier. Happily, we’ve tested both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the NuraTrue extensively, so we can give you a comprehensive comparison between the two models - and hopefully give you a better idea of what you should be looking for from your new pair of earbuds.
Sony WF-1000XM4 vs NuraTrue: price and availability
Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the NuraTrue launched in 2021, and are still available to buy today.
The Sony earbuds will set you back $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95, unless you can find them with a discount; deals are sometimes available, but you’re more likely to find a good deal on their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3.
The NuraTrue are the cheaper of the two models, coming in at $199 / £199 / AU$299; that makes them the clear winner for anyone who’s on a strict budget. There are cheaper wireless earbuds on the market; models like the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus and the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 offer excellent audio performances for less than $100 / £100. However, budget wireless earbuds like these won’t offer the same level of customization, or as many extra features as the Sony and NuraTrue buds.
Sony WF-1000XM4 vs NuraTrue: design
The Sony WF-1000XM4 and the NuraTrue are both true wireless in-ear headphones that feature silicone eartips that create a seal between your ear canal and the outside world. Unlike the popular Apple AirPods, neither model features protruding stems.
Coming in black and silver, Sony’s earbuds sport round housings with trendy copper accents and come with a slim charging case that’s 40% smaller than that of their predecessors, the WF-1000XM3.
The NuraTrue also come with round housings, but they’re much flatter and wider than the Sony WF-1000XM4; nevertheless, both models are equally comfortable, and feel secure in your ears. The NuraTrue only come in a black color option.
Both earbuds feature touch controls, allowing you to adjust your music playback, answer calls, and choose the level of noise cancellation - and these controls can be configured in the earbuds’ respective apps (in the case of the NuraTrue, you’ll need to do this as part of the setup process anyway).
The Sony WF-1000XM4 controls work flawlessly. And while the NuraTrue controls aren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, we did experience a slight lag between a tap and the resulting action on occasion.
Sony WF-1000XM4 vs NuraTrue: features and setup
One of the reasons that we picked the Sony WF-1000XM4 as the best wireless earbuds you can buy today is their excellent specs and features. You get a lot for your money with these buds, and the accompanying Sony Headphones app makes it easy to customize the WF-1000XM4.
They come with active noise cancellation that can adapt to your environment - and we found the earbuds to be effective in blocking out environmental sound, if not as effective as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.
There’s also support for Speak-to-Chat, which pauses your music when the earbuds detect your voice, and DSEE upscaling to bring lossy music streams closer to hi-res quality. We’re not totally convinced by DSEE, but it does give you a little more detail from low quality tracks.
You can also enable Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology in the Headphones Connect app, which requires you to take a photo of each ear. The app then analyzes your ear shape for an immersive sound that’s tailored to you - though you will need to use a compatible streaming service to take advantage of this feature.
The NuraTrue earbuds also come with active noise cancellation, and while it doesn’t automatically adjust the amount of sound being blocked out based on your surroundings, we still found it to be pretty effective. There’s also a Social mode, which feeds in the sound of your environment, as well as turning your music down – you can assign this mode to one of the touch controls if you want to be able to chat to someone quickly without removing your earbuds.
The app that comes with the NuraTrue is probably the most exciting aspect of using the earbuds - and that’s not meant in a disparaging way. This is where Nura sets itself apart from the competition by offering a truly personalized listening experience.
First, the app runs you through a fit test, to ensure you’re wearing the right-sized eartips and fins for your ears. Then you’ll be put through some hearing tests, during which you’ll hear a multitude of beeps and boops that span the entire frequency range. This supposedly allows the buds’ soundstage to be tuned to your ears - and unlike the Sony earbuds, this feature isn’t limited to spatial audio tracks, and can be used with any music.
To give you a sense of the difference this makes, the Nura app lets you hear music without this personalized sound profile applied, allowing you to toggle between Neutral and Personalized settings with an in-app switch. We found the Personalized setting to be much more immersive and dynamic, so it’s definitely worth doing.
The app also allows you to turn on the earbuds’ Immersion mode, which Nura claims replicates the sound of live music. Using a slider, you can adjust how strongly you’d like the Immersion mode to be applied to your music. We were skeptical, but it does make a noticeable difference, creating a wider soundstage and thunderous bass - however, this isn’t a replacement for the virtual surround sound afforded by Sony’s 360 Reality Audio feature that makes it feel as though sound is coming at you from every angle.
Sony WF-1000XM4 vs NuraTrue: audio performance
If you’re looking for a fantastic audio performance, you can’t go wrong with either of these wireless earbuds.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 deliver a balanced, driving, poised and convincing sound, with great dynamic and rhythmic ability. You’ll get plenty of detail from your music with these buds, and there is support for hi-res audio thanks to Sony’s LDAC codec (though you’ll need a compatible source to take advantage).
The NuraTrue wireless earbuds’ audio performance is also outstanding – and, despite sounding excellent out of the box, it’s all those customizable audio settings that make these in-ear headphones so special.
Of the two, we’d say the NuraTrue sound slightly more immersive, especially if you’re using their Immersion mode; however, the Sony buds win when it comes to detail and rhythmic accuracy.
Like the Sony WF-1000XM4, the NuraTrue can handle hi-res audio streams thanks to aptX Adaptive support.
Sony WF-1000XM4 vs NuraTrue: battery life
You get the same battery life with the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the NuraTrue, but it’s distributed between the earbuds and their charging cases a little differently.
With the Sony earbuds, you get 24 hours in total, with 8-12 hours of playback provided by the earbuds themselves. If you have active noise cancellation turned on, you can expect a shorter battery life.
The NuraTrue, on the other hand, offer 6 hours from the buds themselves, with a further 18 hours provided by the charging case.
Neither of these models come with class-leading battery lives, like the 45 hours provided by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, but both will get you through a week’s worth of commuting. However, the Sony WF-1000XM4 have an extra trick up their sleeves in the form of wireless charging, which means you can simply pop them on a charging pad to top them up. The NuraTrue can only be charged via a USB-C cable, which is included in the box.
Whether you buy the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the NuraTrue earbuds, you can be sure that you’re getting some of the best wireless earbuds available today. Both models sound fantastic, feel comfortable to wear, support hi-res audio and noise cancellation, and come with easy-to-use touch controls.
If your decision comes down to money, the NuraTrue are the obvious choice, costing $80 / £50 / AU$150 less than the Sony earbuds. However, if you want to experience virtual surround sound, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the best choice for you, thanks to support for 360 Reality Audio. Sony’s buds are also a little more discreet-looking, so they’re ideal if you prefer a subtle style and don’t like the wide housings of the NuraTrue.
If you want a pair of earbuds that you can really personalize, the NuraTrue are the better choice here. The accompanying app takes you through all the steps you need to ensure that you’re getting the best sound possible for your ears, and it’s really fun to hear the difference between a personalized sound and a more generic tuning.
Of course, it might be that neither of these earbuds are right for you. If that’s the case, check out our guide to the best true wireless earbuds for a wider selection of in-ear headphones that we’ve selected for sound quality, value for money, and specs. Alternatively, if you’re not ready to ditch the cable, read our guides to the best earbuds for a variety of neckbuds and wired in-ear headphones at a range of prices.
- Check out our guide to the best noise-cancelling earbuds