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Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: Exceptional Sound & Noise Canceling

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The predecessor, Sony WF-1000XM4, was renowned for its outstanding noise reduction and sound quality. Nevertheless, with two years on the market, Sony decided it was time for an upgrade. The new Sony WF-1000XM5 offers several noticeable enhancements.

Design and Form Factor

One of the most immediately noticeable improvements is the redesign of the headphones. They now boast a more compact and lighter build while retaining and even surpassing the strengths of their predecessors.

Balancing Quality and Cost -Sony WF-1000XM5

While acknowledging that quality comes at a price, it’s crucial to consider whether the Sony WF-1000XM5 price tag of around 300 euros justifies the investment.

Read Also: 10 Best Stereo Headphones Of 2023 – Top Picks For All Models And Styles

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The Sony WF-1000XM5 wireless headphones present a promising blend of improved design and the exceptional sound quality and noise cancellation capabilities that the 1000X series is known for. However, the question of whether the higher price point is justified remains to be explored. The individual will delve into an in-depth evaluation to determine if these headphones offer a worthy investment for their professional pursuits.

Technical Specifications of Sony WF-1000XM5

Specification Details
Main Parameters 8.4 mm speakers Neodymium magnets
Frequency Range 20Hz – 20,000Hz (44.1kHz sampling)
20Hz – 40,000Hz (LDAC 96kHz sampling, 990kbps)
Processors  HD Noise Reduction Processor QN1e
 Integrated Processor V2
Battery Life Music Up to 8 hours (Noise Cancellation On)
Up to 12 hours (Noise Cancellation Off)
Conversation Up to 6 hours (Noise Cancellation On)
Up to 7 hours (Noise Cancellation Off)
Charging Time About 2 hours
Connections Bluetooth 5.3
USB Type-C
Supported Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, TMAP, CSIP, MCP, VCP, CCP
Supported Audio Formats SBC, AAC, LDAC, LC3
Dimensions 64.6 x 40 x 26.5 mm
Weight Charging Frame 39 g
Headphones 5.9 grams
Price – Around 300 euros

Japanese Environmental Commitment

It is commonplace for conscientious manufacturers to highlight their environmental responsibility in the production of their products. However, Sony stands out for having embraced this ethos long before it became a mainstream concern. Notably, their packaging is entirely devoid of plastic, a testament to their unwavering ethical stance.

A Sustainable Packaging Choice

While Sony’s packaging may not evoke the same premium sensation as glossy, plastic-wrapped alternatives, it represents a significant ethical stride by the manufacturer. Crafted from recycled paper pulp, the compact box contains all the essentials, leaving no room for deficiency in the package.

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Comprehensive Inclusions

Within the packaging, alongside the headphones and charging case, one finds four pairs of Memory Foam ear tips and a humorously abbreviated charging cable. As is customary, a wall charger is omitted, but the presence of a USB-A plug at the cord’s end facilitates compatibility with older chargers. For households equipped solely with new chargers featuring a USB Type-C socket, a cable may be conspicuously absent, necessitating immediate charging. Though the addition of a silicone sleeve would enhance user satisfaction, the commendable range of sizes compensates for its omission.

Sony WF-1000XM5
Image Source: Sony

More Compact Charging Frame

Sony’s decision to reduce the frame size by 16% is a welcome one. However, this adjustment has come at the expense of some distinctive design elements, such as the angular features and the elegant LED strip. Despite these changes, the new model offers a range of improvements worth exploring.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Enhanced Ergonomics and Material Choices

The charging frame now boasts a more rounded shape, significantly improving its ergonomics for handling. It’s notably more pocket-friendly, making it a marked improvement over its predecessor. Sony has also incorporated recycled plastic into the charging case, which features a pleasing matte surface that offers both grip and resistance to dirt accumulation, particularly in the black version. While minor scratches may be visible, they can be easily remedied with a quick surface clean. Although not explicitly emphasized by the manufacturer, this feature suggests a longer-lasting attractive appearance, even when the case shares space with keys.

Sony WF-1000XM5
Image Source: Sony

Aesthetic Considerations: Striking a Balance

The overall aesthetic may be perceived as somewhat impersonal. Without the Sony logo, it would be challenging to distinguish it from competitors. Nevertheless, Sony’s commitment to Japanese design principles, characterized by maximum minimalism, understated aesthetics, and thoughtful details, is commendable. Notable ergonomic features, like the flat bottom for wireless charging, further demonstrate this approach. However, there’s a slight concern regarding the durability of the bezel hinge, which appears less rigid and causes a slight wobble in the cap. Regrettably, this issue from the previous model persists in the current iteration.

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Practical Improvements: Accessibility and Functionality

The LED line has been replaced with a small LED dot at the front of the frame. The inclusion of a USB Type-C socket and a connection key at the back is a welcome change. This adjustment accommodates a more user-friendly setup process, as it eliminates the need to open the cover and simultaneously touch both earpieces, as was the case with the XM4 model. This enhancement allows for a more seamless setup, even with the headset in one hand and the phone in the other. Furthermore, the internal magnets prove robust enough to securely hold the headphones in place within the cradles.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Water Resistance and Usage Considerations

While the moisture resistance of the frame is not specified, the headphones themselves have received an IPX4 rating, offering protection against splashes but not dust. It’s important to note that they are not suitable for swimming or showering.

Technological Marvel: Sony WF-1000XM5  Sony’s Compact and Innovative Headphones

Powerful Innovation in a Smaller Package

It’s truly remarkable that Sony has managed to incorporate two processors and six microphones into these headphones while reducing their size by an impressive 25%. This addresses a significant concern with the previous XM4 model, which was its bulkiness.

Aesthetic Considerations: Balancing Form and Function

Sony’s marketing touts the improved glossy surface for a more luxurious feel. However, it’s important to note that this change sacrifices some of the distinctive traits, as the glossy finish bears a resemblance to Samsung’s design language. The touch-sensitive matte surface is a practical enhancement, aiding tactile location, but the glossy body can be a hindrance, making the headphones slippery and challenging to extract from the charging case. It’s an adjustment that may require some finesse.

Design Preferences: Evaluating Earbud vs. Ear Leg

The user expresses a personal preference for earbuds with a leg (as seen in the “Nothing Ear (stick)”) and acknowledges that this familiarity may bias their perception of other options. The preference for a leg design stems from its ease of placement in the ear and the secure fit it offers. The Sony WF-1000XM5, with its different design, may require a bit more adjustment. While the reduced size and weight enhance comfort, the shape may not suit all ear types, leading to potential stability issues, particularly during vigorous activity.

Sony WF-1000XM5
Image Source: Sony

Ear Cup Material: Balancing Comfort and Durability

The ear cups, crafted from Memory Foam rather than silicone, offer improved passive noise reduction due to their ability to conform to the ear canal. However, users should be aware that Memory Foam may wear out more quickly compared to silicone. There’s also an adjustment period to the slightly snug sensation created by the foam, which might not suit those with sensitive ears. Sony’s choice not to include silicone eartips might be a drawback for some users. Nevertheless, the inclusion of XS, S, and L sleeves, with M pre-installed, provides a range of options for individual preferences.

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Sony WF-1000XM5 Simplified Connectivity with Android Quick Connect

Thanks to Android’s introduction of Quick Connect, the process of connecting wireless headphones has become incredibly straightforward. It’s a matter of releasing, holding the key, waiting for the animation, and voila!

Sony WF-1000XM5

Unique Setup Process by Sony

Sony has taken strides to ensure that the setup process for their headphones is distinctive. For instance, accessing features like 360 Reality Audio (a form of spatial audio) requires a unique approach. Users are prompted to take a photo of their ears and listen to instructions provided by Intara Rešetina, albeit in English but read by a voice that feels distinctly Latvian. The user doesn’t mind providing ear shape data to Sony, recognizing the potential for improved ergonomic products. However, streamlining this process could enhance the overall experience.

Transition to Everyday Use – Sony WF-1000XM5

After investing time in granting necessary permissions and navigating the somewhat awkward task of photographing one’s ears, users can finally dive into everyday use. It’s worth noting, however, that 360 Reality Audio is currently limited to a select number of apps, and content availability may not be as extensive as Apple’s Spatial Audio offerings.

Wide-Ranging Options with a Slightly Quirky Design

The Sony WF-1000XM5 is managed through the Headphones Connect app. While its design may not be the most intuitive or stylish, it stands out for offering an extensive array of control options that surpass many other wireless headphones. The app divides control into three sub-menus: basic settings, active usage configurations, and software updates.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Adaptive Sound Control and Scenario Recognition

In the status section, users can access fundamental controls, including the adaptive sound control feature. This function dynamically adjusts to different environments and user activities, offering profiles for activities like walking, resting, or commuting. Notably, the headphones excel at autonomously discerning the relevant scenario.

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Sony WF-1000XM5 Sound Control and Equalizer Adjustments

Within the sound section, users can fine-tune the intensity of noise reduction and tweak the equalizer settings, which will be elaborated upon shortly. System settings allow for personalization of touch-sensitive surfaces and facilitate software updates. Additionally, in the services section, options are available to expedite Spotify connections and assign shortcuts, such as the Endel relaxation app.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Intuitive Gestures and Customizations

What truly sets the Sony WF-1000XM5 apart are the nuanced features. For instance, users can lower the volume swiftly for a brief conversation by simply holding a finger on the left earbud. The responsive touch surface of the headphones adeptly recognizes one, two, three, or even four touches, as well as longer touches. The finger choreography, although not entirely intuitive, offers a high level of control.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Microscopic-Level Customizations and Organic Gesture Control

The app provides an impressive level of customization, including the ability to accept or decline calls through head gestures. Nodding signifies acceptance, while shaking the head indicates refusal—a remarkably organic approach that consistently performs accurately.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Stellar Connectivity and Device Switching – Sony WF-1000XM5

The stability of connections and the seamless ability to switch between two devices deserves commendation. This feature ensures a hassle-free user experience, reinforcing the app’s overall excellence.

A Standout App in the Wireless Headphone Industry

In totality, the Headphones Connect app offers a depth of customization and control rarely seen in the wireless headphone industry. Sony’s dedication to providing this level of functionality puts them well ahead of the competition.

Sound Quality and Customization: Sony WF-1000XM5

A Balanced Sound Profile

By default, Sony presents a meticulously balanced sound profile. The bass is present without overpowering other frequencies, allowing for an immersive experience when enjoying diverse genres like opera. Unlike headphones with overly aggressive transitions, Sony prioritizes mature and quality sound reproduction.

Noteworthy Sound Detail

The Sony WF-1000XM5 distinguishes itself with its attention to sound detail, setting it apart from competitors. However, users should be aware that the extensive software allows for personalized equalizer adjustments. The app not only offers its own sound presets but also enables users to fine-tune and create their preferred sound profile. In the beta version, there’s an innovative feature to help users discover their ideal equalizer settings. Through music playback and variations, the app generates a customized equalizer, streamlining the process for those unfamiliar with complex equalizer scales.

Sony WF-1000XM5

A Departure from Previous Models: Quality Over Volume

In contrast to past models, Sony has shifted its focus from sheer volume to an emphasis on quality. Comparatively, the bass in the Sony WF-1000XM5 may not be as pronounced or deep as the XM4, but it compensates with a wealth of details, rendering a more nuanced and crystalline sound. This revision also translates to a significant boost in maximum volume. Equipped with 8.4 mm speakers, the headphones deliver a soundstage that feels expansive and immersive. Remarkably, even at higher volume levels, the audio quality remains uncompromised, further setting the bar for the competition.

Sony WF-1000XM5
Image Source: Sony

Sony WF-1000XM5 Remarkable Achievement in Sound Engineering

Sony WF-1000XM5 not only maintains the brand’s reputation for exceptional sound quality but also introduces a level of detail and customization that elevates the listening experience. The shift towards quality over sheer volume is a welcome improvement, showcasing Sony’s commitment to delivering a superior audio experience.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Elevating Excellence: Sony’s WF-1000XM5 Noise Cancellation

Dual Approach: Passive and Active Noise Cancellation

Sony takes strides to enhance an already exceptional product. The Sony WF-1000XM5 employs both passive and active noise cancellation techniques. Memory Foam tips, as mentioned earlier, play a significant role in passive noise reduction by adapting to the ear canals, effectively minimizing extraneous noise. The addition of six built-in microphones, advanced processors, and even AI further fortifies their noise-cancellation capabilities.

Intelligent Scenario Detection for Adaptive Noise Control

The headphones intelligently recognize different activity scenarios, automatically adjusting between active noise cancellation and ambient mode, which allows outside sounds to permeate the ears. For example, when stationary or in transit, active noise cancellation takes precedence; when engaging in conversation or movement, ambient sounds are allowed in. This intelligent adaptation ensures awareness of surroundings, be it traffic or other environmental sounds, for enhanced safety.

Sony WF-1000XM5
Image Source: Sony

Seamless Transitioning and Exceptional Noise Reduction

Sony’s transition between modes is praiseworthy, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience. This, coupled with the detailed sound quality, contributes to a superlative audio experience unique to the Sony WF-1000XM5. While mowing the lawn posed a slight challenge due to the software’s occasional misinterpretation of the lawnmower’s noise, manual activation of noise cancellation provided a quick solution.

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In-Depth Noise Cancellation Technology

The active noise cancellation performs remarkably. Although not all noise is entirely eliminated, these headphones offer one of the most effective noise-cancellation experiences available in compact earbuds. Sony’s strategic use of three microphones per earpiece, alongside the new V2 processor and the QN2e HD noise cancellation processor, excels in suppressing mid-frequency noises, such as those emitted by kettles and air conditioners. Through manual adjustments, nearly the entire frequency spectrum can be dampened, ensuring an immersive listening experience.

Setting the Benchmark for Microphone Performance

The Sony WF-1000XM5 also impresses in call performance. The software automatically adjusts wind noise reduction, delivering clear and pleasant voice quality during calls. Only in the face of strong winds on the other end did a slight robotic undertone emerge, otherwise maintaining superb clarity.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Battery Performance: A Steady Companion

Consistent Performance, Close to Manufacturer Claims

Throughout the test period, the batteries of the Sony WF-1000XM5 proved reliable, even if they didn’t set any industry records. Sony’s promised 8 hours of active noise cancellation held up quite well, with approximately 7.5 hours achieved in practice—a result commendably close to the marketing claim. It’s worth noting that enabling LDAC may lead to slightly faster battery consumption. However, it’s a rare scenario to be using headphones continuously for more than 6 hours.

Charging Quirks and Speed

A curious observation in the application revealed occasional disparities in the headphones’ reported charging levels. While the cause remains uncertain, it didn’t significantly impact overall usage time. Charging, on the other hand, is a relatively slow process. Wired charging takes about 1.5 hours, while wireless charging approximately doubles this timeframe. The silver lining is that a mere 3 minutes of cord charging grants an impressive hour of music playback—a notable convenience for users on the go.

Pros and Cons of Sony WF-1000XM5

Pros

One of the most detailed sounds in the industry

Excellent active noise cancellation

One of the most complete headphone apps ever

Reduced size and weight

Cons

Ergonomics are not suitable for active sports

The asking price could have included some silicone tip for variety

Allow to change touch functions! The original ones are not organic

Sony WF-1000XM5
Image Source: Sony

Sony WF-1000XM5 Review Conclusion: The WF-1000XM5 Triumph for Sony

Emphasis on Quality Over Trendiness

Sony WF-1000XM5 once again demonstrates the manufacturer’s commitment to prioritizing quality over trendiness. While Sony’s products may not always chase after flashy aesthetics, the brand’s focus has consistently been on delivering exceptional substance. Rather than simply embellishing the surface, Sony aims to create an experience that resonates deeply with users.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Noteworthy Improvements in Design and Comfort

The Sony WF-1000XM5 distinguishes itself from its predecessor in several key ways. Notably, the design has taken a more user-centric approach. The reduction in size and weight contributes to a more comfortable fit. While the ergonomics and Memory Foam tips may not suit every individual, they represent a significant leap forward, demonstrating that size reduction can lead to marked improvements in quality across the board.

Audio Excellence and Unrivaled Noise Cancellation

This year’s model, while departing from the deep bass of the XM4, compensates with arguably the most nuanced sound quality in the industry. This is complemented by an active noise cancellation feature that outshines competitors, seamlessly transitioning between modes and creating a listening experience that feels almost surreal. The persistent white noise, characteristic of many noise-cancelling systems, is subtly integrated, enhancing overall immersion.

Full-Fledged Software and Dependable Battery Life

The Sony WF-1000XM5 doesn’t merely excel in hardware; its software is equally comprehensive. Sony has ensured that the user experience is refined and reliable. The batteries, though not record-breaking, consistently deliver performance in line with Sony’s claims. This holistic approach ensures that every aspect of the product aligns with Sony’s unwavering commitment to quality.

Read Also: Sony Is Planning to Acquire the Premium Headphone Brand Audeze

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