Sony WH-1000XM5. The Japanese giant continues to like difficult acronyms but, once the name is set aside, we are faced with a product of excellent qualitydesigned for those who first of all want to isolate themselves from external noise.
How do they behave in the field? We tell you about it in this one WH-1000XM5 review, the ultimate Sony headphones with active noise cancellation.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 review
Okay, let’s tear off the patch right now.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 are for sale at 420 €.
We know, there are not a few. And yes, they cost more than the M4s we reviewed two years ago. In fact, at the time the list price was 380 €, which is theoretically the same as now but fortunately you can find them discounted on the various online stores.
The question we ask ourselves at this point is: is it worth spending this amount on the new M5? First we tell you what’s new and then we draw the necessary conclusions.
On the left the M4, on the right the new M5
The design is more minimal: now the headband is thinner and intersects with the pavilions, the sensors and microphones positioned inside the pavilion disappear (and now hidden along the perimeter) and the possibility of folding them also disappears, which is possible with the M4.
The result is not particularly original but it doesn’t matter. In the end what really matters is comfort and here Sony reaches very high levels, with larger pavilions that contain better ears and a lower weight than in the past (250 grams). We used them for a 10 hour flight and we had no problems, also because they don’t shake their heads even when you decide to sleep in them. So comfort, vote DIESCI.
The foreseen colors are two, as in the past. We have the black, which perhaps holds less fingerprints, and what Sony calls it Platinum Silver, which seemed to us the same beige as the M3 and M4.
The material is the same for both variants: plastic.
But stop everyone.
Sony opted for a thermoplastic polymer that is particularly pleasant to the touch, almost satin. On the other hand, the plastic is recycled and comes from automotive components.
It is true that for 420 € we would have expected some kind of metal but they never seemed to us not very solid, not very well maintained or even cheap. And I miss the shadow of creaking. In short, Sony has done a great job, guaranteeing excellent build quality but above all a very high level of comfort.
The case and accessories
He convinced us a little less he box. The Sony WH-1000XM5 have a case that is the daughter of a slightly different philosophy than in the past: you can compress it to facilitate transport, however, with the headphones inside, this case is more bulky than that of the M4. On the other hand, there is a small compartment for the USB-C cable, which you need to recharge them, and for the 3.5 mm jack, which instead allows you to use them via cable.
What is missing? The adapter to use them on the plane. In fact, every now and then the jack to insert the headphones is double on the plane. So you have 2 jacks. For this reason it happens that over-ear headphones have the appropriate adapter so you don’t find yourself listening to a movie in one ear only.
In the M4 there was this contraption, in the M5 it was not.
It is true that the use of the double jack is less and less widespread, however, considering the price, we would not have been sorry to find it in the package.
Sony WH-1000XM5 review: audio quality
But now let’s talk about performance. The M5s integrate 30mm driver against the 40 millimeters of the M4. That might sound like a downgrade but it really isn’t: the sound is more detailed and more balanced. This is because we have around them a lightweight carbon fiber dome, which allows for more natural sound.
There are perhaps some genres that are most exalted by the M4, such as hip hop, but overall we liked the M5 a lot. Also remember that you can use Sony Headphones app to adapt them a little to your tastes, putting his hand togreat equalizer of the Japanese company.
In our opinion, however, the difference between the 2020 model and this one, released in 2022, is not abysmal. You must have a rather sensitive and trained ear to notice this.
On board we have not one but two processors that take care of the active noise cancellation. What changes? The performance on the plane seemed similar to us but we have improvements in canceling rumors and traffic.
Just a universal clarification. It’s called “active noise cancellation” but it’s not like it gets rid of everything. Some frequencies are counterbalanced to help you focus only on what you are currently listening to, be it music, podcasts, movies or videos of any genre.
As per tradition, on the headphones you have a button that allows you to switch from noise cancellation to ambient mode, which instead amplifies the surrounding noise.
And the calls?
Call handling has finally improved, also because the M5 now have 8 microphones, 4 of which for the voice. In addition, there is artificial intelligence to keep background noise at bay.
The yield is quite good, even if in very noisy environments you will still struggle.
Sony WH-1000XM5 review: the other features
The Sony WH-1000XM5 are full of smart features, starting with the possibility of connect to two devices at the same time.
But be careful: either use simultaneous connection or LDAC, Sony’s codec for high quality audio. A limitation that the M5s inherit from the M4s.
They are not new either the controls, which rely on various swipes and touches on the right pavilion. The possibility still exists place your hand on the pavilion to stop the music – without pausing – and amplify the external sound. And, like on the M4 and other high-end Sony headphones, we have it Speak to chat, with playback pausing by itself when you speak. But keep in mind that it is quite sensitive so it can send the reproduction in the country even when you make some exclamations of amazement or for anything else you say more or less consciously.
All these options you can check with the Sony Headphones application, which continues to be a reference for the market.
Finally, we come to autonomy. We are on 30 hours with active noise cancellation, which is not bad at all, especially if you have to make long trips by plane, those of 10-15 hours.
We used them for a trip from London to San Francisco and they allowed us to go there and back without having to recharge them.
Sony WH-1000XM5 review: conclusions
Let us now return to the original question: are they worth 420 €?
It is a major investment but you take it home a product with quality audio and one of the best noise canceling technologies on the market. On the other hand it is a product destined to last over time. In the editorial office there are those who still use the M3s – released in 2018 – and they still work perfectly, with the pavilions that have not been worn in the slightest. The M5s should guarantee the same longevity.
What is missing? In our opinion the only real shortcoming is the fact that they don’t connect wirelessly to the PlayStation 5. It is true that, according to the latest rumors, Sony is launching its gaming headphones but the two things could happily go hand in hand.
So who are these headphones suitable for? In our opinion to those who travel a lot (especially by plane), to those who particularly care about noise cancellation and to those who want to use them at home, perhaps to completely isolate themselves from drills, noises or not very discreet neighbors.
And the M4s? If you’ve already bought them, we don’t think it’s worth making the switch. The differences are there but not such as to justify the passage and the expense.
If, on the other hand, you are thinking of buying a new pair of headphones with ANC, the M4 still have a lot to say: the audio is good, the noise cancellation too, they are very comfortable and the case is more compact, therefore even more suitable for those who travels.
Then if you want a new, updated and upgraded product, then you can go for the M5.
- Revamped design
- Excellent build quality
- Excellent sound quality
- The ANC is a reference for the category
- Lots of smart features
- Great application
- No double jack adapter
- The case is not as compact as that of the M4