Everything You Need To Know About Sony WH-1000XM5

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With decades of headphone industry experience, few companies can win the hearts of multiple generations, as is the case with Sony. The company is the leading name for Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and no other series of the brand stands out more than WH-1000X successions. Loved by professional musicians and casual music enthusiasts, the newest flagship iteration – Sony WH-1000XM5, comes to win the market again. Sony has completely revamped the headphones from a design point of view; however, the core mechanisms behind the shell that made it famous remain the same. At an eye-squinting price of 400 USD, the Sony WH-1000XM5 isn’t friendly for everyone’s pocket, but for those who can afford it, it is a worthy investment.

Sony WH-1000XM5

The Highlights

The Sony WH-1000XM5 is the most comprehensive headphones you’ll get on the market. It has all the standard features and adds innovative functions that allow it to stand ahead of any other industry headphones. For instance, Fast Pair allows quick coupling when turned on near your frequently used devices. Find My Device support is another feature that tracks your Sony WH-1000XM5 in real-time and lets you quickly find the headphone inside your home.

The Active Noise Cancellation feature is what the XM5 is known for amongst Sony enthusiasts. It is a significant improvement over the MX3 and MX4 regarding noise attenuation. It has outstanding music isolation, which means that any offending blasts of unwanted sound are immediately blocked from reaching your ears. In our testing, we specifically saw notably better performance than Sony WH-1000XM4 as it could cancel sounds better in the 30 decibels range.

The soft leatherette finishing on its padding allows ample fiction to stay on your head while giving comfortable ease to keep it on with long hours of use. This new generation of XM5 has a much deeper cup size for more prominent ears and allows a much more comfortable accommodation area for those who have been complaining. The 250-gram lightweight of the XM5 compliments the comfortable padding and is gentle enough to stray away from any extreme pressure. Miraculously, the XM5 is lighter by 4 grams compared to MX3 and MX4, which, while not immense, still shows Sony’s effort towards improvement.


Everyday Usage

Sony made the WH-1000XM5 with many everyday considerations, which you will only observe after using the device for a while. It takes care of many things while you do your daily tasks, such as it pauses the music when the headphones are off your head. The device can also detect ambient noise when it is coming your way – you merely need to place your hands over any of the cups, and it can temporarily let you hear what is going on around you. Once you let go, the music resumes back where it had left paused.

If you’re working at your desk, it has smart sensors that understand when you’re speaking to another person by detecting speech patterns through its multibeam microphones. This feature means that rather than putting aside traditional headphones as you would usually have to, the same is not the case with the 1000XM5. It allows you to resume back from any conversation and avoid any disjointed interactions. This feature has been brought to the MX5 directly from the MX3 and MX4 as it is popular amongst Sony buyers.

One caveat of 1000XM5, as with the earlier iterations such as Sony WH-1000XM4, is that they are not IP certified. The reading material provided with the device is pointed out to keep the device away from sweat. This context implies that if you’re looking for a gym buddy, Sony WH-1000XM5 might not be the correct fit for you. It is suggested to keep the device away from rainy climates as well as the letter finishing can wear out faster because of this.

Controls and Connectivity

The Sony WH-1000XM5, MX4, and MX3 are all saying when it comes to their main controls. They all use a capacitive touch panel on the right ear cup that allows navigation for swiping up, down, forward, and back. It also allows a central hold to access voice assistant through a double tap to play or pause music and hold over the entire cup to allow ambient sound to pass through.

In WH-1000XM5, two buttons for ANC mode and power navigation are present. Holding the power button allows the on/off feature, and keeping it for three seconds after turning on allows pairing mode. Similarly, the NC/ANP button allows ANC mode to be activated or turned off. In addition, this button allows ambient sound to be activated, which allows outside noise recording to be allowed into the microphone array.

Regarding connectivity, it is a standard Bluetooth headphone that allows you to connect with your PC or smartphone. You can also use a TRS cable to do the same and use the ANC mode while connected through a wire. The headphones have a USB-C in the bottom right ear cup that allows you only charge facility and, unfortunately, does not give digital music playback.

Sony WH-1000XM5,

Exclusive Software Support

The Sony Headphones Connect Application works for both Android and iOS. You should take advantage of this if you’re buying the Sony WH-1000XM5. It allows ANC optimization control, custom equalization access, and 360 Reality Audio navigation. Through this, user control is improved. In addition, the application operates as a vehicle to help your Sony WH-1000XM5 to improve through software updates.

Apart from the above positive features, some intrusive and slightly creepy aspects to using the Sony Headphones Connect Application are there. Firstly, Google’s Fast Pair feature requires data and location information to be shared with Sony to allow the Find My Headphones feature. Moreover, the application requires images of your ears to enable improvement for the 360 Reality Audio headphones, which adjusts audio signals per your ear cups.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Battery Life

Through extensive testing at the hands of our various technicians, we saw a result of 31 hours and 53 minutes with ANC on – This was surprising as it was better than the advertised 30 hours that Sony had promised with the WH-1000XM5 on its promotional materials. Adding to the surprise, we saw an outstanding output of 53 hours and six minutes when the ANC was completely disabled. This meant an additional 20 hours result if you’re willing to sacrifice the ANC. When you’re at home, consider using this tip as you will need to charge the device much lesser.

Irrespective of how you’re using ANC, the WH-1000XM5 will likely last about a week of commuting or extended long flights. Quick charging is a boon for when you’re rushing. Just like previous iterations like WH-1000XM4 and XM3 have also featured this bonus. You can get up to 180 minutes of instant playback with a mere three-minute charge. Indeed, if you can find a charging point, carrying the 3.5mm USB-C cable can come in handy for direct analog playback.

Sound Quality and Equalization

The Sony WH-1000XM5 is much like most ANC standard headphones in the market, where the bass is emphasized too much. It can drown out the mid-range of various tracks. When putting other high-end headphones in comparison with Sony’s XM5, XM4, and XM3, this series’ strong emphasis on bass compared to other standard market products is easily identifiable. Comparatively, the midrange is overpowered by the highs and lows, and if you’re not using any equalization configurations, finding the correct tune for listening to stringed instruments can be difficult.

Songs such as woodwinds, horns, and even vocals can get dulled in your favorite tracks if you’re not tuning settings as per your ears. It is slightly heavy for its bass and treble as the Sony WH-1000XM5 targets a much more mass-market appeal with this bass boosting feature. However, in our recommendation, you should go into the app and equalize this after a few starting sessions on the device. One strong advice we can make is to nudge and play around with the “Clear Bass” feature and set it down a couple of notches.

Through our testing, we observed more frequency ranges in the highs, showing over-emphasis upon specific tracks than others when compared to our targeted curve. This result meant that in particular music tracks, such as the attack on snares, hi-hats, and cymbal shimmer, the under-emphasis on the mids work being over-pronounced. When putting the XM5 in comparison to the XM3 and the XM4, there was an immediate difference in the roll-off after 10kHz. This showed that music tracks that heavily relied on uncrowded mixes had much more instrumentation in tracks by artists like Bruno Mars, Silk Sonic, and Anderson Paak.

The WH-1000XM4 and XM5 can support Sony’s high-bit rate proprietary codec called LDAC. This proprietary feature allows good sound quality to be boosted. Through default settings, the headphones turn on with the “Best Effort” mode, where lower traits are present. Through configuration, you can push this upwards to 660 kbps if you’re willing to play around with the deep settings to your liking. This customization is present on all WH-1000X devices and has deeper options in WH-1000XM4 and XM5. The highest quality option is at 909 kbps. However, you might notice a few jumps and audio playbacks if you let the device go on its own.

Sony WH-1000XM5


In the Sony WH-1000XM5, eight microphones are present with artificial intelligence and machine learning operating at the back of the device. And it helps in the noise reduction algorithm to be at play. Through these microphones, any zoom call or phone calls happen in a breeze. However, remember that the microphone on this headphone cannot replace your dedicated condenser mic.  In our testing, we noticed very minimal background noise coming in from the microphone. As the vicinity from which it was picking up noise was kept at minimal and was enough for speaking sessions.

Versus the Sony WH-1000XM4 and XM3

The only legitimate reason to buy them is a hefty discount or design preference when putting the Sony WH-1000XM5 against its predecessors such as WH-1000XM4 and XM3. In our opinion, the sound quality is much worse in the previous models compared to the XM5. However, if you’re getting the earlier devices at prices such as $280 or $320, you should go for them, as that would be an instant no-brainer deal. While the earlier models will not give you an exactly similar experience to the XM5, many standout features such as the ANC, the 360 Reality Audio, multipoint audio output, app detection, and app support are all present.

Moreover, the earlier models can fold into a smaller case compared to the XM5. While not immensely smaller, this can be a decision-weighing factor for those carrying smaller cases. However, Sony WH-1000XM4 and XM3 are a lot harder to adjust the EQ levels on the headphone even with the app control. This makes the high-end overemphasis in your music stand out like a sore thumb in many tracks. Thus, if you’re making a choice based on sheer features, go for the Sony WH-1000XM5.

Final Verdict

If you’re living in a crowded neighborhood or just looking for something simple to take while going off on your next trip or commuting daily, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is an ideal choice. The most significant decision-making factor is the hefty price of 400 USD, as most individuals will think twice before shelling out this much for a single headphone. However, the WH-1000XM5 is the closest thing to a safe bet you can make regarding the headphone industry. All our audio testing has shown positive results for this device’s above-average sound quality reproduction.

Moreover, the excellent ANC performance is like nothing you would get from any other device in the market. Unique features such as Find My Device support and the custom Sony headphone application equalization are big selling points for WH-1000XM5. However, small disappointing factors such as the missing IP certification from the device is a feature we think many would be willing to traded off for the immense advantages that WH-1000XM5 brings.

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