Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

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Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

The Sony WF-1000XM5 are the latest in-ear wireless headphones from Sony, building on the company’s reputation for producing top-notch TWS (True Wireless Stereo) solutions. Over the years, Sony has been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to form factor and miniaturization, and the WF-1000XM5 continue this trend with their smaller, more sophisticated design.

One of the standout features of the WF-1000XM5 is the incorporation of a new converter that has led to a radical change in their shape. This new design not only enhances the aesthetics but also improves the overall comfort and fit, ensuring that the earbuds securely stay in place during various activities.

The most significant upgrade in the WF-1000XM5 lies in their active noise reduction capabilities. Sony has implemented a larger number of microphones in these earbuds, allowing for better noise isolation and cancellation. 

Sony WF-1000XM5 The Best Truly Wireless Bluetooth Noise Canceling Earbuds...
  • The best truly wireless noise canceling headphones on the market.
  • Astonishing sound quality with High-Resolution Audio.
  • Sony’s best ever call quality with AI based noise reduction algorithm and bone conduction sensor.
  • Small, light and beautifully designed.
  • Smooth switching and a clear Bluetooth signal with a powerful new Integrated Processor V2.

Of course, with these significant improvements comes a higher price tag. The Sony WF-1000XM5 are positioned as a premium offering in the TWS market, reflecting the advanced technology and features they bring to the table. While they may seem expensive compared to budget alternatives, the enhanced active noise reduction, superior audio quality, and comfortable design are well worth the investment for those who prioritize an exceptional audio experience.

Sony WF-1000XM5: Video Review

Unboxing

The materials used in the packaging are fully biodegradable and 100% recyclable, aligning with Sony’s efforts to make their products more eco-friendly.

Upon opening the box, users will find the WF-1000XM5 true wireless earbuds neatly nestled inside their charging case. 

The environmentally-conscious approach extends to the accessories provided within the package. A very short USB-A to USB-C cable is included for charging convenience. 

To cater to users with different ear sizes, the package includes four sets of ear tips in various sizes: very small, small, medium, and large. 

Also, the package contains a manual to guide users through the setup process and familiarize them with the earbuds’ features and functionalities.

Design

The Sony WF-1000XM5 headphones, especially in their gray variant, offer a delightful tactile experience with their materials. 

Sony has made significant progress in the design and dimensions of the WF-1000XM5 compared to their previous generations. The case is thoughtfully compact, not being too wide or long, allowing it to easily slip into small pockets. The curved design gives it a sleek and slim appearance, enhanced by the elegant golden Sony logo that adorns the case. Additionally, the case’s practicality is further emphasized by its ability to stand on any of its four sides, offering versatility in how it can be placed on surfaces.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

At the bottom we find the wireless charging coil, while on the back we find the USB-C connector and the pairing button. A multi-colored LED is placed in a small hole in the front.

However, some minor imperfections exist in the case design. The magnets could be stronger to ensure a more secure closure, and the flap hinge could be better fitted to avoid slight movements. Though these flaws are not deal-breakers, they are noticeable upon closer inspection.

As for the headphones, Each individual earbud now weighs only 5.9 grams, even though it incorporates an additional microphone and a dedicated noise-only processor. This reduction in weight ensures that the earbuds remain comfortable and unobtrusive during extended use.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

Sony has paid attention to every detail in the design of the WF-1000XM5, making the edges of the earbuds even more cut and rounded. This refined design not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also improves the touch surface, making it more responsive and user-friendly. The touch controls on the earbuds are intuitive, and there is ample space for easy finger brushing, enabling users to effortlessly manage playback, volume, calls, and other functions with a few taps and swipes.

In addition to the internal enhancements and design upgrades, the WF-1000XM5 also boasts an IPX4 rating. This means that the earbuds are resistant to splashes of water from any direction, making them ideal for use during workouts or in light rain. 

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

As for the foam tips included with the headphones, they may show signs of wear and discoloration over time, especially in the gray variant. Despite this, the overall comfort and fit they provide outweigh the minor inconveniences. The foam tips conform exceptionally well to the ears, ensuring a secure fit, even during extended use, such as long journeys on a warm train. The level of fit and comfort offered by these ear tips is praised as “masterful,” indicating that users rarely feel the need to take off the headphones due to discomfort.

Sony WF-1000XM5: Features

The Sony WF-1000XM5 are feature-packed flagship earbuds that bring an array of upgrades to the table. Building upon their predecessors’ success, these buds offer an impressive set of functionalities that cater to various user needs.

One standout feature is Speak-to-Chat, which automatically pauses your music and activates the ambient mode when you start talking to someone. This intelligent mode enhances convenience, allowing you to engage in conversations without needing to manually adjust your earbuds. The ambient mode is customizable, letting you control the level of external sound you want to let in, ensuring you stay aware of your surroundings.

Multipoint Bluetooth pairing is another noteworthy addition, enabling seamless connection with two devices simultaneously. Switching audio between devices becomes effortless, making it convenient for those who frequently use multiple gadgets.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

With various EQ settings and adaptive sound modes, users have the flexibility to fine-tune the audio to their liking. Additionally, the support for hands-free access to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant adds a layer of convenience to voice interactions.

A new beta feature called “find your equalizer” allows you to explore and choose from a range of EQ setting tweaks, providing the ability to create a personalized sound profile that suits your preferences.

Ear-detection sensors pause and resume music playback automatically when you remove or insert an earbud, accommodating the use of a single earbud if desired.

Sony introduces spatial audio with head-tracking, an exciting feature that enhances the immersive sound experience, particularly for Android users. Although it remains uncertain whether this feature will be available for Apple users, it showcases Sony’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of audio technology.

Gesture control for answering and ending phone calls offers a unique hands-free way to manage calls, allowing users to nod their heads to handle incoming and outgoing calls efficiently.

The compatibility with the new LE Audio standard ensures future access to advanced features like Auracast broadcast audio, providing the ability to tap into audio streams from various sources.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

Support for Sony’s LDAC audio codec, which is widely adopted by many Android phones, enables superior sound quality for high-resolution audio streaming. While iPhone users receive AAC audio codec support, activating LDAC in the developer mode of Android settings enhances the audio experience further.

In conclusion, the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds are a testament to Sony’s dedication to delivering cutting-edge technology and features. With their comprehensive range of functionalities, from adaptive sound modes and voice assistant support to spatial audio and LDAC codec compatibility, the WF-1000XM5 are a top-tier choice for audiophiles and tech enthusiasts seeking an exceptional wireless earbud experience.

Sound quality

The Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds boast impressive sound technology, thanks to their new 8.2mm speaker driver units and three microphones in each bud. Powered by the V2 Integrated processor and QN2e Noise-Canceling Processor, these proprietary Sony chipsets provide enhanced processing power, leading to improvements in sound quality and noise cancellation.

The sound quality of the WF-1000XM5 is a step up from its predecessor, the XM4, which already received praise for its excellent sound reproduction. With the new drivers and processors, the XM5s deliver a cleaner and more refined audio experience. The treble is more detailed, the mids (where vocals reside) are clearer, and the bass has better definition, resulting in a more accurate and audiophile-friendly sound signature. While the soundstage may not have expanded significantly, the earbuds still provide a big, voluminous sound with depth and nuance, allowing listeners to discern distinct instruments in complex tracks.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

When it comes to tonal balance, the Sony WF-1000XM5 arguably have a slight edge, offering a pleasant and well-rounded listening experience. Vocals sound particularly natural, and the overall refinement of sound contributes to their status as some of the best-sounding earbuds available.

For those who enjoy club music, the Sony WF-1000XM5 won’t disappoint. The earbuds handle energetic tracks well, maintaining composure without compromising the liveliness of the music. However, for fans of phonk or other vibrant genres, the default sound setting may feel too restrained. This indicates that Sony aims to provide a balanced and versatile sound profile, though users can still adjust the settings to suit their preferences.

Ultimately, the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds offer a rich and refined audio experience with excellent noise-canceling capabilities. The enhancements in sound quality, combined with their advanced features, make them a top choice for audiophiles and music enthusiasts seeking high-quality wireless earbuds.

ANC 

Sony proudly claims that the WF-1000XM5 is the best active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones, and they certainly live up to that reputation.

The noise-canceling capabilities of the WF-1000XM5 are highly effective in creating a calm and quiet listening environment. The earbuds’ in-ear design, coupled with the proper fit of the foam tips, plays a crucial role in ensuring optimal noise isolation. However, the microphones also play a commendable role in this process. They efficiently capture and analyze the surrounding sounds, allowing the noise-canceling technology to eliminate not only external noises but also punchy and shrill sounds, such as a tram crossing railroad tracks. This level of noise reduction is particularly beneficial in noisy environments like busy streets or public transport.

While the ANC performs admirably, one slight drawback is the lack of user control over its intensity. Sony employs advanced algorithms to determine the appropriate level of noise cancellation for different environments, but some users might prefer the option to adjust it manually.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

Interestingly, turning on the noise cancellation can also provide a more pleasant feeling when turning one’s head. With the microphones activated, the system allows some external sounds to enter, reducing the sensation of isolation. Sony utilizes the latest Android software to recognize the position of the head, ensuring that the sound quality remains consistent regardless of head movement.

Sony has gone above and beyond with the ANC capabilities by incorporating additional features. For example, the headphones include a feature that listens for external sounds to determine if someone is trying to talk to the user. When detected, the ambient mode is automatically activated, allowing users to be aware of their surroundings and engage in conversations without removing the earbuds.

With its efficient microphones, effective noise reduction, and intelligent features like automatic ambient mode, these earbuds offer a remarkable listening experience. Whether you’re in a bustling city or on a long flight, the WF-1000XM5 ensures an immersive and tranquil audio experience that keeps you connected to your surroundings while delivering outstanding sound quality.

Battery life

The Sony WF-1000XM5 offers respectable battery life, though achieving the manufacturer’s claimed 8 hours on a single charge might be challenging under certain conditions. With active noise reduction and sound transmission enabled, the battery life is reduced by approximately 2 hours, especially when playing audio at maximum volume. However, when using the earbuds without any additional features, the operating time extends to around 7 hours, which is still a solid result.

While 7-8 hours of battery life is commendable, it may not be groundbreaking compared to some other competitors in the market. Nonetheless, it provides sufficient playtime for most daily use, whether during commutes, workouts, or leisure activities.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

The charging case for the WF-1000XM5 is efficient and can quickly replenish the earbuds. Via the USB-C connector, the case charges from 0 to 100% in a little over an hour. Additionally, the convenience of wireless charging is included, with support for inductive charging according to the Qi standard. This allows users to charge the case wirelessly with compatible charging pads, providing flexibility and convenience.

Sony also promotes quick charging capabilities, claiming that a three-minute charge can provide an hour of music playback. However, from personal experience, it may be more practical to spend around 10 minutes charging to achieve that one-hour playback time with active noise reduction turned on and the volume set to a higher level.

Sony WF-1000XM5: Conclusion

The Sony WF-1000XM5 headphones truly excel when paired with the accompanying headphone app. The app provides an impressive array of settings that enhance everyday comfort, making the earbuds highly customizable to suit individual preferences and needs. These settings contribute to an outstanding audio experience, and despite a slightly lower battery life than the manufacturer’s claim, the earbuds still offer excellent performance.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: I want them despite the $300 tag

The WF-1000XM5’s compact size and redesigned shape deliver music in superb quality for extended listening sessions. The noise-canceling and sound quality receive incremental upgrades, ensuring a more immersive and refined audio experience. Additionally, voice calling benefits from a noticeable improvement, making conversations clearer and more enjoyable.

Sony WF-1000XM5 The Best Truly Wireless Bluetooth Noise Canceling Earbuds...
  • The best truly wireless noise canceling headphones on the market.
  • Astonishing sound quality with High-Resolution Audio.
  • Sony’s best ever call quality with AI based noise reduction algorithm and bone conduction sensor.
  • Small, light and beautifully designed.
  • Smooth switching and a clear Bluetooth signal with a powerful new Integrated Processor V2.

Android users are in for a treat with spatial audio and head tracking, which adds a new dimension to the soundstage. This feature enhances the overall listening experience, providing a more immersive and dynamic audio environment.

While the WF-1000XM5 earbuds deliver exceptional performance and advanced features, their premium quality comes at a cost. Sony’s flagship earbuds are positioned as a top-tier option in the TWS earbuds market, reflecting the level of technology, comfort, and audio excellence they bring to the table.

You can also check out the best-selling True Wireless Active Noise Canceling Earbuds on Amazon:

 

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