Sony WH-1000XM5 Review: Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Canceling

Sony WH-1000XM5 Review- Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Canceling

Credit: Trusted Reviews


The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are still the best headphones in the world thanks to their class-leading noise-canceling features and well-balanced music, but a higher price point and similar functionality to earlier models make them a somewhat more difficult sell than before.

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  • The sound that is articulate and engaging
  • Excellent control choices
  • Outstanding noise cancellation
  • Battery life is extended
  • Excellent call quality


  • The cost of redesign and green credentials has risen
  • During extended listening, the ears become heated

The Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless active noise-canceling over-ear headphones are a significant upgrade over the headphones they replace, which were largely considered the best wireless headphones available.


So it’s a relief, albeit an expected one, to learn that the WH-1000XM5 continues were the XM4 left off. They are every bit as attractive a pair of cans like the ones they replace, with excellent sound quality in every regard, better noise-cancellation, and a very credible eco proposition.


However, the news isn’t all positive. Even if our experience with Sony headphones leads us to anticipate that the asking price will come down shortly, the price at which the XM5 launches is eye-opening. If you’re hoping for a little bling for your money, you’ll be disappointed – the WH-1000XM5, especially in the ‘ecru’ finish of our review sample, are plain and uninteresting. When you’re wearing them, it’s easy to forget what they look like. It’s even easy when you’re listening.



Sony WH-1000XM5 Review

  1. Price and Availability: Sony WH-1000XM5 review
  2. Design
  3. Comfort of Use
  4. Sound Quality
  5. Sony WH-1000XM5 Active Voice Canceling
  6. Controls
  7. Call and Connectivity
  8. Battery Life
  9. Final Words


Price and Availability: Sony WH-1000XM5 review

Price and Availability: Sony WH-1000XM5

Credit: Business Insider


At the end of this month, the Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless active noise-canceling over-ear headphones will be available for purchase. They’ll start at $399 / £379 / €419 / AU$649 and will be available for pre-order through Sony’s website, Amazon, and Best Buy, among others. The WH-1000XM5 is available for pre-order straight from Sony in Australia.


Without a question, this is at the top of the mainstream’s over-ear headphone market, pushing closer to the ‘luxury lifestyle’ category, where brands like Bang & Olufsen, Apple, and Montblanc hang out. The XM5’s most apparent rivals, such as Bose and Sennheiser, are all far less expensive.


However, it is doubtful that Sony will keep this pricing for long. Each prior 1000X model came with a high price tag at debut, but over time, each previous 1000X model became significantly cheaper. So, unless you prefer being the first to try something, it’s definitely worth waiting to see what discounts emerge.


You could also be divided between the XM5 and its predecessor, the XM4, which is still available for at least $50 cheaper. Our comparison of the Sony WH-1000XM5 and WH-1000XM4 will assist you in making your decision.



Design of Sony WH-1000XM5

Credit: Business Insider


When it comes to the design of the WH-1000XM5, Sony has made several changes. They’re unquestionably different from the WH-1000XM4 — or at least as different as wireless over-ear headphones can get.


The XM5 looks stealthy. They have a more streamlined shape than their predecessors, with an aerodynamic design that increases airflow across the headphone frame, reducing wind noise.


The earcups and headband are almost featureless and completely anonymous, with only a little ‘Sony’ insignia on each hinge. The WH-1000XM5 is built mostly of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and is available in black or ecru. Sony is a big fan of ABS right now since it’s a great acoustic material that’s primarily composed of recycled plastic and can be recycled again at the end of its life.


The WH-1000XM5’s whole eco-friendly component should be commended, and it even extends to the retail packing box. The unbleached, unprinted, and completely recyclable packaging is manufactured from ‘original mixed material,’ with no plastic assured.


The XM5 headphones are somewhat lighter than the type they replace, weighing 8.8 ounces, and they come with a handy small and foldable carry-case that is scarcely larger than the headphones themselves. This is useful because, although having a lot of movement where the hinges contact the earcups, the XM5 only folds flat, not inwards like the XM4.


Comfort of Use

Comfor use of Sony WH-1000XM5

Credit: Digital Trends


The XM5 headphones are somewhat lighter than the type they replace, weighing 8.8 ounces, and they come with a handy small and foldable carry-case that is scarcely larger than the headphones themselves. This is useful because, although having a lot of movement where the hinges contact the earcups, the XM5 only folds flat, not inwards like the XM4.


The earcups are of reasonable size, so they should fit well unless your ears are (to be honest) too enormous. Unlike a number of other designs, the Sony won’t suffocate those of us with smaller skulls. While the earpads are undeniably comfy, the materials used in their construction appear to return your body heat – with interest — faster than some competing designs.


Sound Quality

Sound Quality of Sony WH-1000XM5

Credit: Daily Express


The sound is delivered by two mica-reinforced cellular full-range dynamic drivers in the WH-1000XM5. This appears to be a backward step — at least on paper — because the drivers are just 30mm in diameter, which is less than those found in the previous XM4 and practically every over-ear headphone in the same price frame.


However, the audio fight isn’t won or lost on paper, and the XM5 wastes little time in proving that it’s not how large your drivers are that matters, but what you do with them. Sony is a confident, persuasive, and pleasurable listener in every way.


The listening was done with an iPhone 13 mini, which was used to play content from the Qobuz and Tidal streaming services. I have tried the headphones with an external DAC/headphone amp connected to an Apple MacBook Pro (2020) and the same services for streaming music.



The tone remained neutral and natural throughout, with barely a hint of the highs being rolled off. Low frequencies were powerful but nimble, full of detail and texture, and provided an orderly basis without overshadowing the presentation higher in the frequency range. This enables for unadulterated delivery of middle frequencies, where vocals reside, and because detail levels are similarly generous here, the XM5 are about as expressive and articulate as any headphones at this price point. The XM5s had the good grace not to go overboard at the top end, but they still achieved a pleasant bite and sparkle with high treble notes.


The frequency range was equal and smooth from the bottom to the top. There’s plenty of dynamic space to establish sufficient distance between the calmer, more introspective passages and the thunderous charge-into-the-last-chorus counterpoints, as well as solid rhythmic expression released from music that already possesses it. As previously said, detail levels were high, and even the most transitory, transient information included in a recording was paid special attention to in order to portray a rich and lively image.


Sony WH-1000XM5 Active Voice Canceling

Sony WH-1000XM5 Active Voice Cancelling

Credit: Digital Trends


The news about active noise cancellation is really better. Sony headphones have always been decent in terms of sound quality, but more often than not, they’ve been very excellent’ rather than ‘amazing’ in terms of noise cancellation — but that’s not the case here.


The XM5 banishes almost all external sound and leaves a wonderful black background against which your music can do its job without leaving any indication of how hard the ANC circuitry is working. As a result, the XM5 can compete with the greatest noise-cancellers on the market.



Controls of Sony WH-1000XM5

Credit: Engadget


You have a lot of options here, which is great, but even better is that they all function quite well.


The right earcup’s capacitive touch surface takes care of the obvious items in a consistent and dependable manner. With little effort, you can ‘play/pause,’ ‘volume up/down,”skip forwards/backwards,’ and ‘answer/end/reject call’. Meanwhile, a tactile button on the left earcup enables you to go through your noise-canceling settings.

The ‘Headphones’ control app allows you to specify the volume of ‘ambient sound’ you want to hear, but that’s far from the sole feature. Set up the XM5 for usage with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio spatial sound technology, and wirelessly connect the headphones to two devices at the same time. It’s a reliable, helpful, and comprehensive program that outperforms practically every other option I’ve tried.


However, you should avoid altering the ‘clear bass’ setting. Rarely has a feature been called more incorrectly…


The WH-1000XM5 has eight mics, which are used for voice-assistant interaction as well as noise cancellation and telephony. Naturally, Sony will function with the speech assistant included in your source player, but they also have Amazon Alexa integrated into it. And, regardless of whose voice assistant you choose, Sony can communicate with you clearly and reliably. OK, Google has a very well-implemented comprehensive wake-up word recognition, which puts them ahead of a lot of its nominal rivals.

Call and Connectivity

Credit: TechRadar


Have we mentioned the eight microphones? They do, however, assist the XM5 in achieving ‘exemplary’ call quality. The amount of wind noise is kept to a minimum, and both sides of communication are clear and direct. It’s tough to know what else you could possibly request.


The XM5s employ Bluetooth 5.2 for wireless communication, and it supports SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs, the same as the XM4s. The XM5s is quite capable of coping with the hi-res material on your favorite streaming service’s most costly tier, despite the lack of any aptX codec involvement. We don’t all want a Sony smartphone, after all.


If the worst happens with the battery life, the left-hand earcup has a 3.5mm analog input, and a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable is included in the carry-case.

Battery Life

Credit: PhoneArena


If you keep active noise-cancellation turned on, the WH-1000XM5 will last 30 hours between charges, and if you turn it off, it will last up to 40 hours. When charging through the USB-C connector on the right earcup, the XM5 takes 3.5 hours to get from ‘flat’ to full and can maintain an hour’s worth of juice after 10 minutes or so. However, unlike the device they replace, the XM5 is USB-PD compliant and can be charged in three minutes and provide three hours of power.


Final Words

The advent of Sony’s next-generation XM-series over-ear headphones was met with great expectations, and those expectations were met in terms of overall performance.


That’s especially true in terms of ANC performance, which shows competitors that they need to step up their game, as well as the respectable environmental credentials Sony has achieved with its headphone and package materials.


Whatever you think of the understated design style and price hike, the mix of music quality, noise cancellation, and interaction is outstanding across the board, and the next-generation Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are a nice step forward.


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