Meet The Sony Wh 1000xm5 The Follow Up To The Best Headphones In The World

What Hullo-Fi? Verdict

Redesigning its premium noise-cancelling headphones wasn’t without risk, only the Sony WH-1000XM5 are a sonic triumph


  • +

    Sensational sonic clarity

  • +

    Punchy delivery

  • +

    Precise, agile bass

  • +

    Nice to use


  • Build seems a niggling less premium than earlier

  • Don’t fold away completely

In recent years, Sony has struck upon a winning formula that has seen information technology build some of the all-time dissonance-cancelling headphones on the market place. Each iteration has looked pretty similar to the terminal but it has been the gradual improvements in audio quality, noise-cancelling and telephone call quality that have kept the WH-1000 line of headphones 1 step alee of the competition.

And then, when we saw the official pictures of the Sony WH-1000XM5, nosotros were more than a bit surprised. Nosotros wondered whether it was a wise movement to give one of Sony’south biggest success stories in recent retention a major redesign.

The cartoon board has been well and truly dusted off for the latest iteration of its premium wireless ANC over-ears. Information technology’south a brave decision, but has Sony broken something that didn’t really need fixing?


(Image credit: Sony)

With the electric current marketplace weather condition, we have seen quite a few toll rises across the industry, and the Sony WH-1000XM5 oasis’t managed to escape a slight increase, coming in at £380 / $399 / AU$549.

The previous-generation WH-1000XM4 arrived on the scene in August 2020 for £350 / $350 / AU$550. The Sony’due south closest current rivals are the Bose 700 (£350, $399) and Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless (£350, $400) although both of these pairs have been out for a few years now and yous can discover them cheaper if you shop effectually.


Noise cancelling over-ear headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

(Prototype credit: Sony)

The design changes made to the Sony WH-1000XM5 are significant. Sony refers to the new expect as a “noiseless design” which has seen the visitor try to create a slimmer, more seamless pair of headphones past reworking those areas that can contribute to wind racket. This has led to smoother, sweeping lines and less aggressive edges. Importantly, a number of the joints and hinges that permit the XM4’s earcups to be folded abroad have besides been given the boot.

Every bit a outcome, the Sony XM5 headphones simply fold flat, similar the Bose Dissonance Cancelling Heaphones 700, only don’t fold any smaller. It’s bad news to those of us who like to fold their headphones into a ball and fling them in a rucksack without a 2d thought. Immediately the Sonys feel a flake more than vulnerable, and we experience obliged to utilise the supplied carry instance, which, even though it has besides been revamped, still takes up valuable infinite.

Not just practice the WH-1000XM5 look very dissimilar (and, dare we say, cheaper) than previous generations, they besides feel different. In-hand they feel lighter although the scales suggest at that place are only four grams betwixt them and the XM4s (254g vs 250g).

Sony WH-1000XM5 tech specs

Noise cancelling over-ear headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

(Prototype credit: Sony)

Battery life
Transparency way
Congenital-in mic and controls
Blackness, Platinum Silver

The plastics used are nice to touch on, even if the older model still feels a chip more premium. They are made predominantly from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), a fabric formed past taking certain motorcar parts made in the US and Nippon, recycling and refining them and blending them with mica to become that final stop. It’s a material that was first used on Sony’s innovative LinkBuds wireless earbuds.

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The headband section now employs ABS sliders instead of metal bands to accommodate the fit which we think piece of work rather well. The fashion the sliders kick out at the bottom means they practise protrude a little, and we wonder if Sony could have trimmed a little off the edges only to shine out their contour. But that’south a minor affair.

A section of retention foam in the eye of the headband helps with support and comfort. The band is completely covered in a new synthetic leather that besides covers the retention-foam earpads. It’south soft and smooth to the impact. Comfort levels are upwards in that location with the best and the Sonys deliver but the right amount of clamping force, and so they feel secure without threatening to shell our ears.

As well the aesthetic changes, there has as well been a significant component alter under the hood. The 40mm driver used in the WH-1000XM4 has been replaced with a new, 30mm carbon fibre composite dome that has been specially designed to be lightweight and extremely rigid.

Dissonance cancelling

Noise cancelling over-ear headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony’s racket-cancelling technology has consistently wowed us in recent years, and once more, it is claiming that the WH-1000XM5 deliver the all-time in the business. Afterward focusing on low-frequency racket in previous models, this time Sony has attempted to amend noise cancellation further upwards the frequency range in the XM5.

To help it achieve this, Sony has included the Integrated Processor V1 that starting time appeared on its WF-1000XM4 wireless earbuds. It has besides upped the number of microphones used on the WH-1000XM5 to eight (from four in the XM4) and claim to have improved the tech inside the headphones responsible for identifying racket.

On previous generations of the WH cans, you would have to run Sony’due south NC Optimiser earlier changing locations to make certain you were getting the best racket-cancelling possible. Now, the XM5 headphones automatically optimise the dissonance-cancelling as you motility effectually. It’s done in conjunction with Sony’s Headphones app and the Adaptive Sound Command feature, which track where you are wearing the headphones. Alternatively, you can flick between noise-cancelling and the headphones’ Ambience manner past tapping the corresponding button on the edge of the left earcup.

And one time again Sony generally impresses on the noise-cancelling forepart. They’re among the course leaders when it comes to isolating us from constant drones such equally from trains or planes, but surprisingly, these headphones aren’t quite as consequent as the previous generation when dealing with variable sounds like full general traffic noise. This effect is more a curiosity than a serious problem.


Noise cancelling over-ear headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

(Prototype credit: Sony)

A lot of the features of the WH-1000XM5 have carried over from the XM4. Sony’s DSEE Extreme engine is hither to (claim to) upscale compressed music to well-nigh how-do-you-do-res quality. The headphones are also compatible with Sony’s LDAC technology, which allows streaming of loftier-quality audio from compatible devices at bitrates higher than conventional Bluetooth (there’s no aptX or aptX Hd support).

Quick Attention allows you to lower the volume and have a conversation by covering the right earcup with your hand. While with ‘Speak to Chat’, the Sonys sense when yous start talking, break playback and appoint the ambient sound mode. We have used the feature on the XM4 and on the XM5 it works reasonably well – indeed, the delay between us starting to talk and the headphones switching into action seems to have been shortened slightly.

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Sony claims its ‘Wearing Detection’ feature has been improved for the WH-1000XM5 too. The headphones detect when you lot take them off and automatically pause your music or video – and then restart information technology as soon as you put them back on. Key to this is a proximity sensor in the left earcup; this used to be visible on the sometime model merely is at present hidden out of sight. Sony says the updates reduce the chances of playback starting accidentally. During testing we are surprised by just how rapidly the XM5 stop and start and how much this feature tin add to the user experience.

Ane Sony characteristic we are delighted to encounter render is the ability to pair the WH-1000XM5 to 2 devices simultaneously. It can come in extremely handy if, say, you are listening to audio from a laptop but need to be continued to a mobile phone so you don’t miss any calls. Having this ability tin exist a godsend and it works seamlessly enough, once you lot accept enabled the feature in the Headphones app. Be aware, though, that yous tin can’t utilise this characteristic and stream music wirelessly using LDAC at the same time; you demand to pick one or the other.

Besides racket-cancelling, Sony has also gradually improved the call quality of its WH-1000 range over the years. And the XM5 headphones deliver the all-time experience and so far. They feature Sony’s Precise Voice Pickup technology, which uses four beamforming mics and AI-powered noise-reduction, plus current of air-noise reduction to help your calls audio as clear every bit possible. The combination of all these technologies ways your voice comes through the WH-1000XM5 conspicuously and without distortion. The Sonys practice a great chore of suppressing general noise and whatever gusts of wind that can threaten to drown you out when using lesser headphones.

Battery life is still a substantial xxx hours with Bluetooth and noise-cancelling enabled. Turn off the latter and the WH-1000XM5s will squeeze out 40 hours – an increment of two hours compared with the XM4. A ten-minute accuse should give you five hours of battery life, while a quicker USB PD charger (not included) tin can up the ante to three hours in simply 3 minutes.


Noise cancelling over-ear headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

(Image credit: Sony)

So you have read how the WH-1000XM5 deal with noise and vocalization calls, but can y’all rely on the headphones to brand the about of your music collection?

Most definitely. They possess all the elements that take fabricated the previous generations course-leaders at the money, including that effortlessly musical audio. Just this latest generation manages to evangelize even greater clarity and a more open up presentation. It’due south actually quite a spring.

With depression frequencies, the WH-1000XM5 likewise display a newfound precision. It’s not that the previous model didn’t deliver, simply the WH-1000XM5 make even the XM4s sound a picayune thick in the lower mids and bass. The new headphones expose greater detail and tin differentiate betwixt notes more than hands.

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Move higher up the frequency range and these Sonys continue to extract more information thank you to an actress sense of clarity. Notes are also dispatched with unerring precision – the XM5 headphones don’t miss a trounce when information technology comes to timing.

The start test track on our playlist is
Duel of the Fates
from The Phantom Menace OST. This is a rousing classical runway and, from the moment the choir puts the wheels of the vocal in motion, you lot tin can hear the Sonys conveying dynamic shifts without any hesitation.

Strings and woodwind instruments drive the track along, the Sonys carefully switching from the frantic, frenzied action to the quieter moments with a delicate touch on. They do a great task of tracking and dissecting the timpani roll in the middle of the track – a department that is tough to follow on headphones with a richer balance.

Billie Eilish’south
Bad Guy
isn’t the most complex of tracks for the WH-1000XM5 to handle, only information technology does let the Sonys to flex their muscles. At that place’s a real sense of drive and weight to the drums, simply the XM5 as well manage to keep edges clean and pristine which makes their rise and fall even more dynamic. The Sonys do a nifty job of rendering Eilish’southward fragile yet very deliberate end/start vocal – some other example of the expert timing on display.

We finish with an intimate functioning of Light-green Twenty-four hours’s
Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)
and the WH-1000XM5 really practice a great job of capturing the crispness and precision of Billie Joe Armstrong’s vocal and guitar play. Y’all tin can picture his fingers and the force with which each string is plucked and the natural tone of the string arrangement as information technology sweeps in midway through the song strengthens the emotional connection with the listener. Just as it should.


It tin can exist tricky for a manufacturer to push the sound performance of a product consistently from generation to generation; but that is what Sony has managed to practise with the WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones. Not merely that, information technology has been achieved while executing a major redesign.

The Sony XM5 headphones might feel a little less premium than before, but the bound in sound quality from the previous generation is a large i, and rivals could once once again accept their work cut out. If you are looking for a new pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones, your auditioning should start here.


  • Audio 5
  • Condolement five
  • Build v


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Meet The Sony Wh 1000xm5 The Follow Up To The Best Headphones In The World