Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless ANC Headphones: Review

Every firm goes via a interval the place it stumbles. Sony could be the primary to acknowledge that for about 5 years it didn’t make the very best TVs, audio system, Blu-ray gamers, receivers, or headphones. For most corporations that might be the kiss of demise however Sony didn’t turn out to be one of many 5 most acknowledged manufacturers on this planet as a result of they make common merchandise. Apple, Sony, Disney, Coca-Cola, and Nike are immortal manufacturers.

Ask the common particular person on the road to call 3 shopper A/V manufacturers and “Sony” will all the time be a part of that listing. In each nook of the globe.

Sony made some adjustments and invested closely within the media aspect of the enterprise and has executed reasonably effectively in that regard. They additionally made the clever choice to double down on gaming and headphones, and return to what made them nice — creating the very best TVs on this planet once more. We lately participated within the 2022 TV Shootout and Sony got here out on prime. LG and Samsung have had an incredible run and nonetheless make among the finest TVs on this planet, however Sony is again.

In the headphone class, Sony has additionally reclaimed a few of its status and market share by growing class main ANC wi-fi headphones and earphones.

Bose and Apple have traded blows with Sony for years; Sony’s WH-1000XM Series have turn out to be among the best-selling headphones on this planet with the WH-1000XM3, WH-1000XM4 and new Sony WH-1000XM5 taking over the QuietComfort and AirPod Pro fashions.

Sony WH-1000XM4 (left) vs. Sony WH-1000XM5 (proper)

From a advertising and marketing perspective, Sony must rethink the way it differentiates its ANC wi-fi headphones and IEMs as a result of the WH-1000XM* and WF-1000XM* sound like the identical merchandise — particularly with the brand new WF-1000XM5 IEM on its manner later this 12 months.

There was a lot hypothesis that Sony wouldn’t redesign the present mannequin and solely make small adjustments as a result of the market had responded so positively. Sony of 2022 is a really totally different firm that’s all the time searching for a approach to make their merchandise that a lot better.

The design has modified with the attachment between the ear cup and headband being a completely new system. Sony has additionally redesigned the drivers and altered the presentation.

There was some threat in doing so as a result of the market might have responded negatively to the adjustments.

How did Sony do with the brand new WH-1000XM5 wi-fi headphones?

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones inside carrying case

The Skinny

The new design has an almost cylindrical headband with the majority of the padding on the underside and the peak adjustment executed with friction match tubes that exit the padded part of the headbands.

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The headband has a swiveling motion within the final inch that permits the cups to activate the vertical axis 90° to the entrance so the headphones can lay flat and roughly 40° to the rear.

A single level connection attaches the headscarf to the cup and acts because the hinge on the horizontal axis. Movement is pretty restricted with roughly 20° of journey.

As somebody who wears glasses, I’m conscious about discomfort that may accompany a poor design and am joyful to report that the WH-1000XM5 has sufficient clamping drive to remain put throughout train and it by no means was an excessive amount of that it pressured my glasses to shift.

The ear cups at the moment are a truncated cone design with a flat heart floor with a sloped part that provides one-inch of depth and 1.5-inches of width. The vertical part hides the mating of the cup to the pads. 

The pads are vegetable leather-based and are each a bit deeper and wider than the earlier model which was just a little tight for my ears. Our one gripe is that the pads should not as simply modified as some others however opposite to any on-line rumors — the ear pads on the Sony WH-1000XM5 are replaceable.

The general weight is saved to 250 grams which isn’t the lightest available on the market; the extra weight isn’t uncomfortable, nevertheless, and the added mass truly makes these barely extra sturdy.

One side of the design that won’t make some customers joyful, is the shortcoming to fold them as much as make them extra compact for journey.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Hinge
Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones Front

The Kishkas

Sony have determined to go along with a newly designed 30mm dynamic driver utilizing a thermoplastic polyurethane edge and a carbon fiber composite materials to each lighten and stiffen the driving force and scale back exterior noise.

Nominal impedance of the brand new driver is 16 ohms with a sensitivity of 100 dB/mW; we ran wired connections with quite a few good telephones, tablets, and laptops and there was no challenge driving them.

The electronics have been upgraded as effectively, with enhancements to the noise discount circuitry and eight microphones now feeding information into the processor.   The enhance in microphone depend and sensitivity additionally improved name high quality in our exams; the Sony WH-1000XM5 was higher capable of reject exterior noise and wind and enhance vocal high quality for the listener.   

The WH-1000XM5 now characteristic “Find My Device” assist (for Android gadgets) and quick pairing through Google’s GFPS protocol.

Commuters and enterprise vacationers might be most happy by the adjustments to the battery efficiency; the brand new battery was examined throughout 3 commutes and lasted virtually 40 hours between expenses with a full recharge requiring virtually 3 hours with the battery fully drained.   

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A 30-minute fast cost yielded virtually 8 hours of playtime throughout a current enterprise journey which is among the finest outcomes we’ve got seen to this point.

Sony suggested us that these are designed as journey companions reasonably than fitness center headphones; they don’t have an IP-rating and we had been warned about getting them moist.

I wore these exterior carrying a hoodie throughout a lightweight rain and made positive to maintain them dry however they didn’t precisely fall other than some mist which I wiped down. Should you drop these within the pool or washer, it’s unlikely that they may survive.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones Controls on Right Earcup

The controls are largely unchanged with the floor of the precise cup housing a capacitive contact panel and the left cup having 2 bodily buttons for energy/pairing and ANC mode choice.

The controls are largely intuitive with swipe up or down elevating or reducing quantity, swipe left or proper is ahead or again, and double faucet is pause/resume. All of the controls had been very responsive and I think they may arise reasonably effectively to a number of listening classes.

The on-head sensor is a reasonably helpful characteristic that pauses music when the headphone is eliminated and restarts playback when it’s repacked with out having to press any buttons or

The XM5 additionally has an on-head sensor that works effectively; music pauses when the headphone is eliminated and restarts when changed without having extra controls.

The different actually helpful management entails cupping your hand over the precise ear cup which allows the ambient pass-through mode briefly so as to take heed to a dialog when somebody walks into your workplace with out having to take away the headphones or pause the music.

Proper etiquette would name for eradicating your headphones, however it proved to be a reasonably helpful characteristic that I utilized a number of occasions at work when a doc was dropped on my desk for evaluate, or somebody simply needed to talk for 15-30 seconds.

The App

There are some capabilities which might be finest managed or solely managed through the app so putting in it is suggested. The Headphone Connect app is out there in each Google Play and the Apple Store and provides the consumer entry to ANC optimization reasonably than simply the on/off of the bodily button, a customizable EQ, and 360 Reality Audio (Sony’s spatial audio possibility).

Sony have clearly learn the feedback on-line as a result of as soon as a brand new EQ profile is loaded, it stays within the headset for later use even when the consumer connects to a unique supply.   

The one caveat is that the Headphone Connect app does need entry to extra of your private data than some could really feel snug with. This is the trade-off we make for issues like Fast-Pair and Find-My Device as they want entry to location providers and different information some could not like handing over.  

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The app additionally asks for images of the customers ears, as a way to tune 360 Reality Audio to the consumer. This appears just a little odd as effectively, however I haven’t heard of any biometric ear readers which were compromised these days so that is most likely extra of my very own paranoia than any actual threat concerned.  

Sony WH-1000XM5 USB-C Port


The Sony WH-1000XM5 will be related through Bluetooth with both SBC, AAC, or LDAC protocols. Bluetooth aptX has not been supported because the XM3 mannequin and didn’t make a return on this newest model.

There can also be a fallback 3.5mm TRS cable that can be utilized with or with out powering on the headphone. This means you should use ANC with a wired connection if desired and serves to show-off the variations in sound profile with ANC and with out it enabled.

The USB Type-C port on the precise ear cup continues to be for charging solely; which is reasonably disappointing as a result of customers had been hoping that Sony would make it a digital connection as effectively.


The app has a setting to permit the consumer to prioritize sound high quality or stability relying on want so for our testing I set the precedence to sound high quality besides when testing Bluetooth distances once I switched to stability mode.  

The very first thing one notices when listening is a reasonably pronounced bass enhance with some bleed into the decrease midrange. This will not be a reference headphone and as an alternative has a way more consumer-oriented V-shaped tuning. Bass depth is nice however many of the emphasis is within the 75-250Hz vary; the mid bass has much more presence than the low finish and that is undoubtedly not a wi-fi headphone for headbangers.

EIC Ian White would most likely want extra impression whereas listening to “Master of Puppets” however the WH-1000XM5 should not going to overload your ears with an excessive amount of bass both.  

The decrease midrange is essentially the most recessed sounding vary within the general sonic signature with decrease strings and male voices sounding barely boring until some EQ is utilized.

The tonal steadiness and presentation adjustments as you progress into the higher midrange with much more presence and element; feminine vocals and devices have extra vitality and the vocals are pushed ahead within the combine compared to their male counterparts.

The higher midrange and decrease treble each show extra vitality and element however each cease in need of making vocals harsh or skinny. The decrease treble has a average diploma of emphasis however that push begins to say no as you progress via the vary with a reasonably noticeable drop above 10kHz.

That diploma of emphasis and roll-off offers percussion reasonably good snap, however cymbals lose a few of their vitality and don’t sound as ethereal or pure.

The soundstage width and depth creates a reasonably intimate pay attention with solely barely extra width than depth; anticipating something greater than common efficiency from a closed again ANC headphone in that division is unrealistic proper now. The WH-1000XM5’s efficiency is actually on par with different ANC fashions that we’ve got examined these days.

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The “wired” versus “wireless” efficiency highlighted that the “V” sonic signature is closely influenced by the interior electronics. With the headphone turned off and related to an exterior supply, the bass efficiency was far more linear sounding and the recess In the midrange moved to the higher midrange and decrease treble with some extent of roll-off between 1kHz – 4kHz.

That doesn’t make the sound high quality of the WH-1000XM5 higher in wired mode — simply totally different. One nonetheless wants to make use of the EQ to steadiness out the sound and it have to be executed from the supply; the app is not going to work if the headphone will not be turned on.

The “wired” energetic mode (with the headphones turned on) gives a really comparable tonal steadiness and presentation to wi-fi mode which implies that the ANC has an excessive amount of impression on the sound.

Lowering the “Clear Bass” within the app by one or two steps helped an incredible deal when it comes to controlling the low finish impression and extra bloom within the higher midrange.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones Fold Flat

Noise Cancelling

After weeks of listening, the primary challenge was whether or not the sound high quality takes an excessive amount of of successful from the ANC and is the trade-off price it?

After a lot debate, it’s our perception that the ANC doesn’t hinder the Sony WH-1000XM5, however we have to dig deeper to elucidate why that’s the case. The passive noise isolation has been improved on these headphones which does assist reduce exterior noise reasonably significantly; that enchancment implies that the ANC doesn’t must work as laborious to ship an excessive degree of quiet.

Turning ANC on provides a second layer of noise discount which is remarkably higher than the earlier era and the lately reviewed Bose QuietComfort 45 ANC Wireless Headphones. Sony has gained this new spherical with a decisive overhand proper.

Most droning noises are lowered to the purpose that I might barely hear them and the advance with the human voice and different noise in that vary was dramatic; maybe as a lot as 50%. No degree of ANC will ever take away 100% of exterior noise, however the Sony WH-1000XM5 lowered these sounds to a degree that I might barely discover them whereas listening.

If you discover the impression of ANC underwhelming, verify the seal and the way the headphones are located in your head. I observed that if my glasses triggered them to shift in any respect — the ANC efficiency suffered.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones Kit


The Sony WH-1000XM4 had been the very best ANC Wireless Headphones available on the market till the Bose QC45 arrived and knocked them off the Iron Throne.

There isn’t any query that the ANC impacts the sound high quality of the WH-1000XM5, however most individuals are contemplating these headphones for a way they cope with noise and sound high quality is secondary.

Misgivings apart, the WH-1000XM5 continues to be a really listenable and good pair of wi-fi headphones.

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The value has elevated from $349 to $399 and that’s to be anticipated within the present atmosphere; provide chain points and inflation should not your buddy right here and a few will see that as an enormous enhance.

The absence of any waterproofing is odd for a headphone that might be worn exterior by thousands and thousands of commuters and vacationers; Sony actually must rethink that for the subsequent era.

I do want that it was a foldable design and that Sony has used the USB Type-C jack as a digital wired enter.

Durability, name high quality, good sound high quality, and class main ANC makes these a very sturdy purchase for these searching for the very best ANC wi-fi headphones proper now.

Is there something higher coming that rivals the Sony, Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 or Mark Levinson wi-fi headphones that we simply reviewed?

Stay tuned.

Where to purchase: $399 at Amazon | Crutchfield | |

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