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How to use the helpful Speak to Chat feature on Sony headphones and earbuds

Sony’s best headphones and earbuds come with a wide mix of software features. Aside from helpful tricks like adaptive sound control and EQ customization, a more recent addition has been Speak to Chat. It first debuted with the W-1000XM4 in 2020 and has since come to newer Sony products as well.

Since it’s turned off by default, there’s a good chance you haven’t yet tried Speak to Chat. But it’s a very convenient feature that can help you communicate with others without having to fully disconnect from your music.

What is Speak to Chat?

Speak to Chat is a software feature that’s designed to help you talk to people and have brief interactions without worrying about finding and pressing buttons to activate ambient / transparency sound mode. Instead, you just talk aloud, and your headphones automatically do the rest.

Sony uses the microphones on your headphones to detect when you’re speaking. Once your voice is detected, the audio you were listening to immediately pauses and the headphones go into ambient sound / transparency mode. This makes it easy to hear whoever’s talking to you. A few seconds after you stop speaking, your headphones will automatically exit ambient mode and resume playback.

Which Sony headphones support Speak to Chat?

How do I enable Speak to Chat?

To use Speak to Chat, first, you need to turn on the setting in Sony’s Headphones Connect app. It’s available for both Android and iOS.

To get started, just open Headphones Connect and select the headphones or earbuds you’re using. Then tap on the Sound tab. Here you’ll see the toggle for Speak to Chat. If you switch it on, the app will offer to give you a short demo of the feature. You can also choose to skip this.

You’ll need the Headphones Connect app for Android or iOS to enable Speak to Chat.
Screenshots: Chris Welch / The Verge

How do I adjust Speak to Chat settings?

In that same section of the Headphones Connect app, you’ll see a gear icon beneath Speak to Chat. From here, you can adjust the sensitivity of the feature; if you find Speak to Chat isn’t going a good job at detecting your voice, you might want to try the High Sensitivity option. On the flip side, if your headphones are pausing too often when other people speak, it’s worth giving Low Sensitivity a shot.

You can also change how long the headphones wait before returning to their normal playback mode after you stop talking. Sony offers several choices, including Short (5 seconds), Standard (15 seconds), Long (30 seconds), or Does not close automatically. I don’t recommend the last one since it defeats the entire purpose of Speak to Chat if the headphones just stay in ambient sound mode indefinitely.

Speak to Chat is a useful trick in Sony’s arsenal, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re the type of person who talks to yourself often or sings along with your music, you might wind up unintentionally activating the feature.

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