SONY XM4 HEADPHONES "CRACKLING" FIX
Last updated March 6, 2023
The Internet is littered with problems of these headphones making odd "clicking" type sounds. So I decided to investigate it myself.
There have been many possible solutions to fixing the problems which mostly seemed to be relating to active noise cancelling and various clicking/ticking/crackling sounds. These ticking sounds for me seemed to start after about 10 minutes of wearing them where I use ANC only. However while talking I get constant clicking sounds in the left side ear cup (side where the power button is). This is incredibly irritating because it is like rustling paper almost in my ear. But even just slightly moving my head causes these clicking sounds.
You can even force the issue by tapping the outside of either cup and it will sound like the speaker is rattling loose inside. Even pressing on the back can cause ticking or even the "microphone whine" type feedback noises. Needless to say it is all immensely irritating and other fixes on the Internet have NOT worked thus far. However the solution I found seems to be incredibly simple. So I have documented it in hope that it will help others as well.
Sony's only response to the issue I can find is:
You may hear cracking or popping noises when wearing the headphones. These noises happen because, when wearing or adjusting the position of the headphones, air bubbles inside the earbuds get crushed and restored in response to movements that change the shape of the earbuds. This is normal, and not a malfunction
Yeah OK. Yeah its "normal" for it to happen. To the point I want to personally take a sledgehammer to the headphones because they become completely unusable. ANC is there to cancel noise out not introduce more noise! It kind of defeats the object don't you think Sony ? So in my book, it is a malfunction which should be addressed by Sony.
Disclaimer - This mod is all done entirely at your own risk.
Firstly carefully prise off the ear cup with a suitable tool. Then drill a small hole in the location pointed by the red arrow. I used a 0.8mm drill bit. Very carefully drill this hole because it will quickly drill through the plastic and it will hit the pivot plastic on the other side. You will feel the drill bit "jump" once it goes through where you must immediately stop drilling otherwise you could cause damage.
I do not recommend using larger holes unless absolutely necessary. Because these are noise cancelling headphones, you are introducing a external path where noise can enter your cup.
That is it!
What I believe to be happening is a internal air pressure problem. When moving your head or tapping the outside of the headphones, it will cause a minute air pressure difference which is then picked up by the microphone and then amplified to the speaker. So the idea of drilling the hole is that those minute air pressure movements are now equalised by the small hole drilled.
Currently I have only done one side of the headphones. Now tapping the drilled side no longer causes the rattling sounds. The right-hand side without the hole still has all the rattle type problems. Once I verified that all is well I will also repeat the modification on the other side. Currently I have been dictating this page with voice recognition for the past hour and not had a single click sound! Absolute heaven!
So I really hope this simple modification will help everyone to be suffering with these problems.