It’s an exciting time for music lovers. Sony’s release date (launch date, May 20th) for the highly anticipated Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless headphones brought us the most advanced noise cancelling headphones available. Sony’s WH-1000 XM4 is one of the most popular headphones and widely considered the best of all headphones, the cream of the crop over the last two years. Sony gave a complete overhaul to the XM5 as it is the next generation to the XM4, there are some major differences between the two. Both are top-quality high-end headphones with amazing sound and features. So, what did Sony add to its new WH-1000 XM5 that makes it so desirable? Sony’s WH-1000 XM4 has been everyone’s leading favorite for a while. Can the new WH-1000 XM5 dethrone the longtime fan favorite XM? Spoiler alert, these headphones are insanely good. Let’s get into it.
Design, Comfort, Size & Case
Sony’s new true next generation headphones WH-1000 XM5 comes with a complete redesign and hardware upgrade from its predecessor the WH-1000 XM4. The new style along with technologically advanced features and benefits give the XM5 the coolest modern trendy appearance which is a major update from the XM4. The XM5 ear cups are slightly wider and do not fold into the headset like the XM4 does, so they are a bit bulkier than the XM4 when the XM4 is folded. The XM5 features a simple single hinge with a swivel rocker. I personally think this is a great construction quality most of my previous headphones with collapsible ear cups eventually broke. The XM5 is a bit lighter than the XM4 and feels incredibly strong and durable in my hands. The headband is a bit narrower than the XM4 and the ear pads feel much stronger, but with much better cushioning. These are by far my best fitting headphones, especially with the cushion and size of the earcups, they’re so comfortable. The vegan leather feels great and is extremely plush and combined with the lighter weight, these headphones by far are the most comfortable headphones I have ever tried even after long periods of wearing them. The XM5 is available in two colors Black and Silver. The silver looks almost stone color, Sony did a really great job getting all the different materials and fabrics to look the same color giving it a monochromatic, minimalistic, sleek, modern, and trendy look.
Since the XM5 ear cups do not collapse, the case is slightly larger, but it is a magnificent case. Built from what feels like a strong ballistic material with durable molding on the inside to house your headphones. There is also a magnetic latch for a compartment to store cables. The case is still overall quite small, and the shape of the case looks like a stylish backpack. It is a very cool and practical case, and I found no problem easily storing this in my own backpack for travel.
As a former professional musician, the way my headphones sound is the most important thing to me. I want to be able to clearly hear every instrument with a proper balance. I will say that listening to music on these brought me back the sensation of my youth, listening to these songs for the first time. It was so good. Sony’s new XM5 headphones brings a more dynamic and balanced sound than the XM4. This is mainly due to the XM4’s 40mm drivers with overpowering bass which some people may like, however the XM5 bass does have major punch. The XM5 uses a 30mm light and rigid precision engineered driver unit which improves high frequency sensitivity for a more natural sound quality. Sony’s unique technology include a premium lead-free solder containing gold for excellent conductivity, fine sound resistor for even power distribution, and optimized circuitry for an improved signal to noise ratio to ensure clear, consistent sound. The XM5 also boasts some impressive AI systems that will restore and upscale lost sound in compression. I strongly prefer the reserved and defined bass the XM5 offers. The XM5 sound quality is the best I have tried. I tried watching a couple movies with the XM5 as well. The sound was incredible, and these are so comfortable I had forgotten I was wearing them.
Active Noise Cancellation & Voice Calls
This is where the XM5 begins to outpace every other headphone on the market. All good previous noise cancelling headphones I have ever tried did a great job at cancelling out low end frequencies but always had issues with mid and higher ranges causing white noise. The powerful integrated V1 processor maximizes the abilities of Sony’s HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1. The XM5 uses this technology to control 8 microphones to deliver unprecedented noise canceling quality. These 8 microphones, double the amount of the XM4, uses the powerful processors to optimize them, meaning its automatic, unlike the XM4 which had to be done manually. This enables the XM5 to get rid of any mid and high end ambient noise as I was mentioning earlier. This works really great for travelling or commuting on a train. You will no longer hear squealing breaks and high-pitched conversations. The 8 microphones and processors also make the transparency mode better than any other headphone out there with 20 levels to choose from in the app. You can wear your headphones and decide to truly block all outside noise or fully open your headphones to the outside as if you’re not even wearing headphones so you can communicate or listen to what you need to hear, like boarding call for your flight. There is even an enhanced voices toggle as well if you want an even further boost.
Because of the strong control over inside and outside sound these 8 microphones have, the XM5 gives you crystal-clear hands-free calling. Because of the XM5’s Precise Pickup technology and Advnaced Signal Processing, you and the person on the other end of your call will always get clear audible without extra noise, even in a loud environment. Now you can take your business calls wherever you are without concern of call quality.
Using the Sony’s headphone connect app will get you the most out your headphones and is required to use Active Noise Canceling optimization, 360 Reality Audio (excellent for movies or playing games on PS5), and a custom equalizer that saves the settings right on your headset.
The XM5 does share the same 30 hours of battery life the XM4 has. However, what’s amazing and especially ideal for travelers, is the XM5 can charge 3 hours’ worth of battery life in just 3 minutes using the USB-PD compatible AC adapter.
Is the XM5 a buy?
The features, benefits, and specs of the XM5 definitely outweigh the $50 more it costs vs XM4. At $400 the XM5 compares more to the $550 AirPods Max and quite frankly beats the AirPods Max in almost every way. The quality of the XM5 sound combined with the accuracy of the noise cancelling are incomparable to anything else. You can truly hear silence behind a perfectly isolated music track and hear every detail even when your eyes may tell you otherwise from the hustle and bustle around you. Sony’s WH-1000 XM5 are excellent headphones for music, movies, calls and traveling. They have some of the coolest most practical features (like swipe or voice control) and are the most comfortable headphones I have ever tried. These headphones are amazing and I love them.
Also, kudos to Sony for producing the XM5 with low toxicity design principles using recycled and sustainable materials developed specially for Sony. Keep the Earth green!
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