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Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones Review: Hear The Only Sound You Want To
Sony's WH-1000XM series of headphones have garnered a loyal user base, thanks to its active noise cancellation capabilities. While the brand was a lone ranger in the segment a few years back, it is now faced with a lot of contemporaries coming up with innovative audio accessories.
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Multi-device connectivity
- Fast charging
- Touch-based gesture controls
- Gets oily
- Does not fold in half
Now, Sony has addressed the ever-changing tech trends with the WH-1000XM5 flagship wireless headphones. With the latest entry, the series has witnessed a major design overhaul, improved ANC capability, and a slew of new features.
These changes have also made the Sony WH-1000XM5 a tad costlier than its predecessor and cost Rs. 34,990. However, the headphone will be available for Rs. 26,990 for a limited time. For the asking price, is this the best pair of headphones with active noise cancellation? I have been using the product for more than a week, and here is my review of the Sony WH-1000XM5.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Design: Fresh And Practical
Sony received a lot of flak when it launched the WH-1000XM4 back in 2018 with a similar design as its precursor WH-1000XM3. With the latest iteration, the company has gone back to the drawing board and has completely changed the design and the form factor of the WH-1000XM5.
The new offering is not just lighter than its predecessor, but it also looks sharp with a compact headband design. However, due to the new headband design, the headphone cannot be folded, hence, the case of the Sony WH-1000XM5 is slightly on the bigger side.
The carry case has also been completely redesigned to look like a miniature backpack. Inside the case, there is a separate compartment to store things like the charging cable and the 3.5mm AUX cable.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 comes in black and silver color with a matte finish. I have been testing the black variant of the headphone, which comes with matching colored ear cups and the matte finish ensures that the headphones do not attract smudges or fingerprints. However, the black variant does get a bit oily after continuous usage.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Connectivity And Features
The Sony WH-1000XM5's button placement is similar to its predecessor with a physical power button and a dedicated button for enabling/disabling ANC along with a stereo mini jack. On the right ear cup, there is a USB Type-C port with support for various gestures to enable ambiance mode, control volume, and even control music playback.
All these controls can be customized using the Sony Headphone app. The app also allows users to update the firmware of the headphone, customize the EQ, and set Bluetooth connection quality. Besides, the app can be used to analyze the ear to fine-tune 360 reality audio support. Users also get to leverage the wear detection technology, which will automatically pause music as soon as you take off the headphones.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 is based on the latest Bluetooth 5.2 technology, hence these headphones can be used with most modern smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The headphones also support multiple audio codecs such as SBC and AAC along with support for LDAC for high-resolution audio output.
Do note that, if you pair the Sony WH-1000XM5 to an iPhone or an iPad, the headphones can only work on AAC codec. Similarly, on most Android devices, users can select between AAC, SBC, and LDAC. If you are using the multi-device connect feature, you won't be able to use the LDAC codec.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Multi-Device Feature
The Sony WH-1000XM5 can be connected to two devices at the same time. In fact, you can use the headphones with three devices, given you have connected the headphone to a laptop or a phone using the headphone jack. This feature allowed me to seamlessly switch between the devices with ease.
As soon as you start playing media on one device, the headphone will automatically start playing media from that device. Do note that, the headphone will not override when you start media playback on the second device when the headphone is being used by the first device.
Sony WH-1000XM5 ANC Performance
Before testing the Sony WH-1000XM5, I was using the Sony WH-1000XM4 and I have to say there is a clear difference between the noise cancellation performance. Sony says the Sony WH-1000XM5 uses two processors with one dedicated to active noise cancellation.
There will be times where you don't want to completely eliminate the ambient noise, that's where the Sony WH-1000XM5 shines. In most scenarios, the headphone offers excellent noise cancellation. However, in some specific cases I could still hear the external noise, so, it is not 100 percent perfect, just like any other product.
Another very interesting feature of the Sony WH-1000XM5 is that you can listen to the music at a lower volume (with ANC) turned on. Even at lower volume settings, I was able to hear the entire music that I was playing.
One of my favorite features on the Sony WH-1000XM5 is the tap-to-chat feature, which instantly pauses the music and enables ambiance mode.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Audio Performance
The Sony WH-1000XM5 gets pretty loud (which is not really required in the ANC mode) and offers a lot of clarity. The LDAC technology also allows the headphones to deliver higher bit-rate audio when paired with compatible smartphones. I have been using the Sony WH-1000XM5 with devices like the Xiaomi Pad 5, Motorola Edge 30 Fusion, and even the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, and all these devices support LDAC.
The WH-100XM5 is equipped with a 30mm precision-engineered driver featuring a soft TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) edge. The headphone also uses Edge-AI (Artificial Intelligence), and DSEE Extreme technology to further amply the quality of low-resolution and compressed audio files.
The headphone offers multiple audio profiles such as Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Vocal, Relaxed, Mellow, Excited, Bright, and Speech. My favorite profile is "Bright" which delivers plenty of sharp bass with a lot of details on vocals.
I also liked the output from the Bass Boost mode, which offers thumping bass without completely affecting the vocals. Overall, the Sony WH-1000XM5 offers a balanced sound output, and it is clearly better than the Sony WH-1000XM4.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Microphone Performance
While I knew that the Sony WH-1000XM5 will deliver good ANC and audio quality, what I did not expect is the microphone quality. I have taken over a dozen of calls (some of them lasted for more than an hour) and the other person was able to hear me very clearly even when I was walking and talking in a slightly crowded area.
The headphone has four beam-forming microphones and these are calibrated to pick only the user's voice, which helps the headphone offer features like speak-to-chat. I am not a huge fan of chat-to-speak, as the music would just pause when I start humming the song that I am listing to.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Battery Life
Sony claims that the WH-1000XM5 can deliver 30 hours of battery life on a single charge and I can fully agree to that. Moreover, the headphones also support fast charging, where they deliver three hours of music playback with just three minutes of charge time.
I used the Sony WH-1000XM5 for around four to five hours a day, and they did last for an entire week on a single charge. Since I started testing, I have only charged them twice, not because they ran out of battery, but because of the battery anxiety that many of us have.
Verdict: Proven Formula Gets Better
My entire experience with the Sony WH-1000XM5 was very pleasing. You can use these headphones with almost any device, including the ones that might not support Bluetooth, and the new design makes sure that the headphones won't physically hurt or create some fatigue.
While the battery life isn't as good as the recently launched Sennheiser Momentum 4, which is also priced similar to the WH-1000XM5, the 30-hours battery life along with USB-PD fast charging support should be more than sufficient for the majority of users.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 can help you achieve a complete silent mood, or you can also party with these headphones. Well, as we mentioned earlier, you will only hear the sounds that you want to with the Sony WH-1000XM5; so go for it!