The All New And Epic Sony WH-1000XM5 Noise Canceling Headphones
- Industry Leading noise cancellation-two processors control 8 microphones for unprecedented noise cancellation. With Auto NC Optimizer, noise canceling is automatically optimized based on your wearing conditions and environment.
- Magnificent Sound, engineered to perfection with the new Integrated Processor V1
- Crystal clear hands-free calling with 4 beamforming microphones, precise voice pickup, and advanced audio signal processing.
- Up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging (3 min charge for 3 hours of playback)
- Ultra-comfortable, lightweight design with soft fit leather
- Multipoint connection allows you to quickly switch between devices
- Carry your headphones effortlessly in the redesigned case
- Intuitive touch control settings to pause play skip tracks, control volume, activate your voice assistant, and answer phone calls.
- For everyday convenience, just Speak-to-Chat and Quick Attention mode stop your music and let in ambient sound
- With instant pause/instant play music automatically pauses when headphones are taken off and starts again when they are put back on.
In the world of headphones, only a few companies’ new releases are actually worth paying attention to, and chief among those is Sony. Today we’re looking at the most recent update to the company’s flagship active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones: the Sony WH-1000XM5. With a complete redesign, this is one of the best ANC headphones on the market—even at an eye-watering $400 USD. We spent a week getting to know the Sony WH-1000XM5 in rainy Vancouver, and we’re happy to share our notes with you.
The WH-1000XM5 comes with lot of bells and whistles, and Sony still gets most of the fundamentals right. There are a few foibles, but the WH-1000XM5 is an ambitious set of headphones. For example, these cans take aim at a few features that have proven popular on other headsets, like Find My Device support via Android and Fast Pair.
Clad in a soft coating and vegan leatherette, the contact area with your head provides ample friction but is soft enough to not be a bother. Where the pads on the previous WH-1000X headsets have been a little odd for those with larger ears, the padding of the Sony WH-1000XM5 is deep and wide enough to accommodate larger ears, and consequently: it’s comfortable.
Though 250g is not exactly featherweight compared to other ANC headphones the WH-1000XM5 is light enough to spare your noggin from extreme pressure in conjunction with the padding on the headband. The band itself has a friction rod design like the Grado Labs SR60x, instead of the notched track of the older Sony wireless headphones. While it’s not exactly a huge deal, it means there’s no setting you can just remember to fit: you just adjust on the fly.
After you’ve been using your headphones for a while, you may start noticing they handle a lot of things you don’t think about. The ear sensor is quite good at pausing music once you’ve removed the headphones from your head. Creature comforts like the option to enable ambient noise passthrough by cupping your hand over the right ear cup also make a return. It’s nice being able to keep the cans on while someone dumps something off on your desk, rather than taking them off and putting them back on a hundred times as they stop and start a disjointed conversation.
If you want to get the most out of your headphones, you should definitely get the Sony Headphones Connect App (iOS/Android) for your phone. I say that because not only is it required for features like ANC optimization, 360 Reality Audio, and a custom equalizer that saves the settings directly to the headset, but it’s also the main vehicle for Sony to get you updates to your headphones.
Our standard battery test yielded a result of 31 hours, 53 minutes with ANC on, slightly better than Sony’s advertised battery life of 30 hours for the WH-1000XM5. Interestingly, disabling ANC and re-running the test improved the result significantly (by more than 20 hours!), yielding a total battery life of 53 hours and 6 minutes under the same test conditions.
In either case, this is well beyond a normal week’s worth of commuting, or a long-haul flight. If you’re in a bind, just three minutes of charging will supply 180 minutes of playback. Of course, if you find yourself without a USB-C cable, you can always use the handy 3.5mm cable for direct analog playback.
If you’re looking for headphones that can go with you to the office, on your next trip, or handle working from home: the Sony WH-1000XM5 is an excellent buy. Of course, your needs will dictate what’s worth the money to you, but $400 USD is a lot of money to gamble on—this is as close to a sure thing as you can get in the headphone world.
Excellent ANC performance, decent sound quality, and a host of modern features like Find My Device support in Android make for a very capable set of cans. While it’s disappointing that NFC and an IP rating aren’t present on the Sony WH-1000XM5 spec sheet, it’s a tradeoff I think most will be perfectly fine with making. The positives clearly outweigh the negatives in the lab and in real life.