About the Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony's world-class, flagship noise-cancelers get a new look
A completely new design (and case) for Sony's best noise canceling headphones.
Sony's world-class, flagship noise-cancelers get a new look
A new release in Sony's "XM" noise-canceling headphone series is always a huge deal. But the WH-1000XM5 wireless over-ear headphones mark the company's first major makeover to the much-beloved line. They sport a sleek, industrial design that's completely new, while still maintaining — and in some cases enhancing — much of what we love about the super-popular WH-1000XM4 headphones.
WH-1000XM5 vs WH-1000XM4 — what's new?
You'll find the previous generation 'XM4s in more of my "best-of lists" than any other headphones, and they are one of our bestselling headphones ever. That's a lot for these 'XM5s to live up to. So along with the new cosmetic design, Sony's added a second processor chip and extra mics, and they've redesigned the drivers. Taken together, these upgrades give you better sound, phone call clarity, and noise-canceling performance.
Here's a closer look at the key upgrades and changes:
- Roomier earcups with more padding and a more flexible headband: I haven't auditioned the 'XM5 headphones yet, but the new redesign includes larger earcups with thicker, plusher ear pads. They're designed to improve the noise-isolating seal, without increasing pressure on the side of the head. The padded headband is also more pliable and slightly relaxed — but note that it will not fold up for travel, so the included case takes up more space.
- Stronger noise-canceling circuitry: It's hard to imagine Sony's world-class noise cancellation getting any better, but it somehow improves with every generation of these headphones. This time around, they have two of their ground-breaking wireless processing chips on board — the QN1 and V1 chips. They also claim to better cancel out higher frequencies and voices thanks to new "Auto NC" algorithms and eight mics dedicated to hushing external sounds. These tiny mics "read the room" and optimize the noise cancellation for your surroundings in real time.
- Bluetooth 5.2: This is the latest and most reliable version of Bluetooth available, and it makes for a stronger connection to most phones and devices. Not only should it cut down on dreaded audio dropouts, but it should also make "multipoint connection" and moving between two devices even snappier. That allows you to pair, say, your laptop and phone simultaneously — a game changer for the office or working at home.
- Hands-free "Hey Google" and "Alexa" support: The 'XM4s gave you the option to reconfigure the touch controls to immediately pull up Google Assistant or Alexa from your smartphone. You can do that with these headphones, too, but you can also set up Google Assistant or Alexa to activate via a voice command "wake word." It requires a one-time setup through Sony's Headphones Connect mobile app, a free download for Apple® and Android™.
- Redesigned drivers: The 30mm drivers inside the 'XM5s may be physically smaller than the 40mm drivers inside the 'XM4s, but Sony says these headphones deliver a more spacious sound. That's notable, because the 'XM4s have a good-sized soundstage themselves. Inside the new 'XM5 drivers are diaphragm domes made of a light, rigid carbon fiber composite that can move quickly and accurately. It helps deliver more high-frequency detail without distortion, and what Sony says is a clearer, more refined sound overall — versus the extra bass emphasis you get from the 'XM4s.
Top-notch adaptive noise cancellation thanks to two processing chips and eight built-in mics.
Completely personalized noise cancellation
Sony has used adaptive noise cancellation for a while now, and I've always found the circuitry very effective. And the new Auto NC Optimizer is their most advanced version yet. Special on-ear sensors detect whether you are moving or standing still — and even if you're wearing glasses or not. Another sensor monitors barometric pressure. So now Sony can automatically serve up noise cancellation that's optimized to the altitude of your flight during travel.
Sony's app lets you fine-tune the settings
The Headphones Connect app gives you direct control over what noises you let in or keep out. You can customize the level of noise cancellation or ambient sound based on your task, movement, or even location. In previous generations, I've found the ambient awareness mode great for walking the dog. It allowed some outside noise to seep in, so I could hear whenever a car came down my quiet cul-de-sac.
The app gives you a few other controls, too. For instance, you can customize the sound characteristics and tell the app to prioritize either connection stability or sound quality. (The former is helpful when competing with other wireless signals in a high-traffic area like an office or mall.)
A convenient way to hear others
With all the new design touches and features, I'm glad to see Sony bring back the “Quick Attention” feature from the 'XM4. Simply place your hand over the right earcup to temporarily turn off the noise-canceling technology. Tiny built-in mics will pick up external sounds, so you can hear voices or your surroundings.
The right earcup also has a snappy touch-sensitive panel. You control music, volume, and calls with a simple tap or swipe of your finger.
Multipoint connection lets you pair two Bluetooth devices simultaneously.
For the best in wireless sound, you can use these headphones together with a Sony High-res Walkman. This pairing takes advantage of Sony's LDAC technology, which allows the wireless signal to retain more musical detail. I often find that the bass seems better contained, though just as potent, with this connection.
Note that these headphones do not feature the popular aptX or aptX HD codecs. But they do have Sony's DSEE Extreme feature that promises to restore clarity and substance to compressed digital tracks.
Like most Sony headphones these days, the 'XM5s arrive inside a low-key, yet substantial carton made of a recyclable blended material. Sony has told me that this sustainable packaging is made "from bamboo, sugarcane fibers, and post-consumer recycled paper, all of which are available around the world's largest manufacturing hubs in Asia." It's refreshing to see big companies like Sony becoming mindful of their packing materials — and trusting their products to do the talking.
- Featured in our articles: Best Bluetooth headphones for 2023 and Best noise-canceling headphones for 2023
- closed-back, over-the-ear headphones with active noise cancellation
- flexible headband with large, breathable earcups
- generous cushioning on headband and earpads
- headband does not fold up
- Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity for wireless music listening and phone calls with compatible smartphone
- LDAC, SBC, and AAC decoding provides high-quality music streaming from compatible devices
- NFC-compatible for one-touch pairing with compatible devices
- multipoint connection for pairing to two devices at once
- dynamic 30mm drivers with carbon-fiber composite diaphragm domes
- tuned for clear, consistent sound across a wide frequency range
- DSEE Extreme™ (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) processing restores high-frequency signals to compressed digital formats
- uses artificial intelligence to dynamically recognize song elements and restore in real time
Auto NC Optimizer:
- dual-chip system includes the QN1 HD Noise Cancelling Processor and V1 Integrated Processor
- strengthens noise cancellation for human voices and other higher-frequency sounds
- active noise cancellation circuitry adjusts to the level of external sound
- four microphones in each earcup to capture ambient noise
- QN1 chip senses and adjusts to music and noise signals up to 700 times per second
- free Sony Headphones Connect app for Apple® and Android™ lets you adjust settings
- customize the sound and manually choose the level of noise cancellation
- 20 steps of ambient sound control for allowing external sounds in
- personalized Sony 360 reality audio experience with select music services (firmware update required)
- Adaptive Sound Control uses movement sensors to adapt noise cancellation
- detects whether you're running, walking, standing still, or riding in a car (app required)
- barometric pressure sensor optimizes noise-canceling and sound to your altitude when in flight
- summon Alexa or Google Assistant by voice (on your smartphone)
- ask questions, dictate texts, and control music by voice
- available for Apple® and Android™
- only one voice assistant can be set up at a time
- requires one-time setup through the Headphones Connect app
- earcup touch controls let you answer calls, play/pause music, skip tracks, and control volume
- Ambient awareness features:
- "Quick Attention" turns off noise-canceling and engages ambient when you cover the right earcup with your hand
- "Speak-to-chat" detects when you're speaking and automatically cuts off music and lets in external sounds
- built-in microphone system for making calls with a smartphone
- four-mic system filters out background noise for clearer calls
- music automatically pauses when headphones are removed
General info and specs:
- built-in rechargeable battery offers up to 30 hours of wireless use with noise cancellation (40 hours without)
- 3 minutes of recharging provides enough power for 3 hours of listening
- includes USB-C cable for charging
- 47" audio cable with 3.5mm plug for wired use
- carrying case included
- frequency response: 4-40,000 Hz (wired), 20-40,000 Hz (wireless, LDAC mode), 20-20,000 Hz (wireless, non-LDAC)
- weight: 8.82 oz.
- warranty: 1 year
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee
- MFR # WH1000XM5/S
- Stable (stays in place)
- Feels lighter than most
- Good for work/travel
What's in the box:
Sony WH-1000XM5 owner's manual
- Over-ear wireless headphones (silver)
- 48" Audio cable (straight 3.5mm plug on one end and right-angled 3.5mm plug on other end)
- 8" USB charging cable (Type A USB on one end and USB-C on other end)
- Zippered hard storage case
- Reference Guide
- Limited Warranty sheet
- Warning sheet (on exposure to water/sweat)
- 360 Reality Audio promo card
Sony WH-1000XM5 reviews
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More details on the Sony WH-1000XM5
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.176" x 4.014"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||Yes|
|Voice Assistant Access|
|Frequency Response||4-40k Hz|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year|
Overview: The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones combines the industry's leading noise canceling with exceptional sound quality to give you a premium listening experience. The soft padded ear pads evenly distributes the pressure, while increasing the contact around your ear for a good seal and comfortable fit. The WH-1000XM5s feature many smart and innovative features to make your listening much more enjoyable. The headphones include an audio cable for wired listening, a USB charging cable, and a zippered storage case.
Bluetooth: The WH-1000XM5 has Bluetooth 5.2 for wireless listening from your smartphone, tablet, or Bluetooth music player within a range of up to 33 feet. Compatible profiles include A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP, with SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs. LDAC transmits approximately three times more data than conventional Bluetooth, with a maximum transfer rate of 990 kbps for exceptional sound quality. For convenience, the headphones can be paired to two Bluetooth devices at the same time (Multi-point connection), giving you the ability to switch between them with ease.
Pairing: The headphones support Google's Fast Pair feature, which also helps you easily locate your headphones if misplaced. You can listen for a tone sound generated in the headphone, or check their last known location in Google's Find My Device app on your smartphone. The Swift Pair feature on newer Windows laptops, desktops, and tablets makes it quick and easy to pair your headphones to your device. When the headphones are placed in pairing mode, pairing guidance pops up on nearby Windows 11 or Windows 10 device.
Digital Noise Cancellation: The WH-1000XM5 is equipped with HD Noise-Canceling Processor QN1 to provide industry-leading noise cancelation. The headphones are equipped with a total of 8 microphones for noise cancellation. The captured noise data is sent to the processor, where a new Auto NC Optimizer dramatically reduces high frequency noise and optimizes the noise cancellation based on external environmental factors and wearing conditions. The Sony Headphones Connect app has a Noise Canceling Optimizer that takes into account the shape of your face, whether or not you wear eyeglasses, even the atmospheric pressure, to make the noise canceling effect even better.
Adaptive Sound Control: Sony's Adaptive Sound Control can detect your activity and adjust the sound settings to you. When traveling, you can immerse yourself in your music with the highest level of noise cancellation. If you're walking, the noise cancellation adapts so you can stay aware of your surroundings while listening to music. While waiting, such as in an airport or train station, the noise cancellation is reduced so you can hear important announcements. These settings can be customized to your personal tastes in the Sony Headphones Connect app.
Sony Headphones Connect App: The Sony Headphones Connect app gives you control over the sound of your headphones right on your smartphone or tablet. In addition to Adaptive Sound Control and Noise Canceling Optimizer (mentioned above), the app's Sound Position Control lets you choose the direction from which you hear your music (Front, Front Right, Front Left, Rear Right, or Rear Left). You can select from available presets for the Surround VPT and Equalizer features, control your music (play/pause, skip forward/backward, fast forward/backward), and set the Clear Bass and DSEE Extreme (high range compensation for compressed music files) levels. The Sony Headphones Connect app is compatible with iOS devices (iOS 11.0 or later) and Android devices (Android 5.0 and up).
Voice Assistant: The Sony Headphones Connect app now gives you access to Alexa, as well as Siri and Google Assistant. The Amazon Alexa app is supported by Android and iOS devices, and you must say the wake word "Alexa" or hold your finger on the touch sensor to input a voice command. The Google app that comes with an Android smartphone lets you use the Google Assistant. The Siri voice assist function is built into the iPhone, and you can activate it by holding your finger to the headphone's touch sensor for more than a second. You cannot activate Siri when you say "Hey Siri", even if the "Hey Siri" setting is on.
Speak-to-Chat: The new Speak-to-Chat feature makes having a conversation much easier without removing your headphones. As soon as you speak to someone, Speak-to-Chat automatically stops the music, and lets in ambient sound so you can have a conversation. Sony's Precise Voice Pickup technology utilizes five microphones built into the headphones and advanced audio signal processing to recognize your voice and activate the feature. Approximately 30 seconds after you stop talking, your music resumes. You can adjust the time frame within the Headphones Connect app.
Touch Controls: Using the touch-sensitive panel on the outside of the right ear cup, you can easily control all your music and calls. Volume is controlled with up or down swiping motions, while music/call controls utilize tapping and forward or backward swipes. The Quick Attention feature lets you instantly mute the audio by placing your hand over the touch pad so you can hear an announcement or conduct a conversation without removing your headphones.
Proximity Sensor: The headphones have proximity sensors that can detect when you're wearing the headphones, and when you're not. The music pauses automatically when you remove the headphones to help save your battery. When the headphones are put back on, the music automatically resumes.
High Resolution Audio: The headphones are compatible with Hi-Res Audio, allowing you to hear all of the subtle details of your music. The new 30mm precision-engineered drivers have a soft TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) edge that enhances noise cancelling, particularly in the low frequencies. The driver is light and rigid, improving sound quality and enhancing bass. Its improved high frequency sensitivity produces a more natural sound. High-Resolution Audio, as well as High-Resolution Audio Wireless, is supported, for reproducing low bass notes and ultrasonic highs up to 40kHz. For true Hi-Res audio reproduction, the included 4' audio cable is used in a wired connection to your Hi-Res-capable playback device. Hi-Res Audio Wireless is made possible with LDAC's ability to transmit at higher data rates than conventional Bluetooth.
Sustainability: The packaging of the WH-1000XM5 contains no plastic, as part of Sony's "Made to be Remade" socially responsible philosophy. In addition, 99% of the paper packaging, with the exception of labels, is produced using recycled and sustainable materials developed specially for Sony. The recycled plastics in the headphone are derived from automobile parts.
Rechargeable Battery: The Sony WH-1000XM5 over-ear headphones are equipped with a 3.8-volt Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery to power the Bluetooth and ANC functions. The battery fully charges in approximately 3.5 hours via USB using the included USB-C cable and a USB power source with an output of 1.5A or more. When using a commercially available USB AC adapter with USB-PD (Power Delivery) the charging time will be shorter. An adapter with an output of 5V/2A or 9V/3A can be used for faster charging. A 3-minute quick charge using a USB-PD adapter will produce up to 3 hours of playback.
Battery Life: The estimated headphone battery life is as follows:
|Music Playback Time|
Noise Cancelling On
26 hours max.
|Ambient Sound On||26 hours max.|
|Off||36 hours max.|
Noise Cancelling On
|30 hours max.|
|Ambient Sound On||30 hours max.|
|Off||40 hours max.|
Noise Cancelling On
|28 hours max.|
|Ambient Sound On||28 hours max.|
|Off||38 hours max.|
|Noise Cancelling On||24 hours max.|
|Ambient Sound On||24 hours max.|
|Off||32 hours max.|
Headphone Cable Connected
|Noise Cancelling On||28 hours max.|
|Ambient Sound On||28 hours max.|
|Off||38 hours max.|
- Frequency Response:
- Wired: 4Hz to 40kHz (with or without NC)
- Wireless: 20Hz to 20kHz (44.1kHz sampling); 20Hz to 40kHz (LDAC 96kHz sampling, 990 kbps)
- Sensitivity: 102dB/mW (wired, NC on); 100dB/mW (wired, NC off)
- Impedance: 48Ω (wired, NC on); 16Ω (wired, NC off)
- Full Charging Time: approx. 3.5 hours
- Ear cups:
- External: Width 3.176" Height 4.014" Depth 2.023"
- Internal: Width 1.63" Height 2.539" Depth 0.667"
- Headband: Width 0.785"
- Ear cups:
- Weight: 8.75 ounces (w/o cable)
5 questions already asked
I owned Sony WH-1000XM3, WH-1000XM4, and this one so far is the best in response, comfort, and music quality. XM5 has Bluetooth 5.2, and the response to turn, pause, and play is instantaneous.
Vlad from Medford, NJ