Using the handy Speak to Chat feature on Sony headphones and earbuds

The best headphones and earbuds from Sony come with a wide mix of software features. Aside from nifty tricks like adaptive sound control and EQ adjustment, Speak to Chat is a more recent addition. 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, chances are you haven’t tried Speak to Chat yet. But it is a very useful feature that can help you communicate with others without completely disconnecting your music.

What is Speak to Chat?

Speak to Chat is a software feature designed to help you talk to people and have short interactions without having to worry about finding and pressing buttons to activate Ambient/Transparency Sound Mode. Instead, you just talk out loud, and your headphones do the rest automatically.

Sony uses the microphones on your headphones to detect when you speak. Once your voice is detected, the audio you were listening to will immediately pause and the headphones will enter Ambient Sound/Transparency mode. This makes it easy to hear who is 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, you must first enable the setting in Sony’s Headphones Connect app. It’s available for both android and iOS

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

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

How do I adjust the Speak to Chat settings?

In that same section of the Headphones Connect app, you’ll see a gear icon under Speak to Chat. From here you can adjust the sensitivity of the feature; if you find that Speak to Chat is not working properly in detecting your voice, try the High sensitivity option. On the other hand, if your headphones pause too often when other people are speaking, it’s worth giving Low sensitivity a shot.

You can also change how long the headset waits before returning to 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 latter, as it defeats the whole purpose of Speak to Chat if the headphones are left in Ambient Sound mode indefinitely.

Talk to Chat is a handy trick in Sony’s arsenal, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re the type of person who often talks to yourself or sings along to your music, you may unintentionally activate the feature.