The Sony WF-1000XM5s have proven themselves as outstanding in-ear headphones in our tests, boasting superb sound quality, exceptional noise-cancelling, and long battery life. Their features are just what one would expect from modern in-ears: Bluetooth multipoint connectivity, wireless charging, water resistance, and a few neat extras. However, the Sony WF-1000XM5s don’t significantly stand out from their already impressive predecessor. The ANC efficiency of the XM5 is marginally better; the sound is on par, as is the range of features. The XM5’s slightly more compact design is a plus, with the case fitting slightly better in a trouser pocket, and the earbuds feeling a bit more comfortable. Meanwhile, the XM4s hold an advantage with their lower price at the time of testing. The introductory price for the Sony WF-1000XM5 is a steep £254.
- Brilliant sound
- Extended battery life
- Comprehensive features
- Superior noise cancelling
- Due to the firm foam, they are quite noticeable in the ear.
- Slippery plastic in-ears.
- Bluetooth range is just adequate.
Sony WF-1000XM5 Review: Comfortable Fit but Slick Material
With the Sony WF-1000XM4, Sony set a high bar, especially when they added Bluetooth multipoint via an update. The Sony WF-1000XM5s give a largely similar impression in our tests, without truly distinguishing themselves.
The case is elegantly designed. It’s notably slender and compact with a pleasant matte plastic finish. Unlike the XM4’s case, this one has rounded edges, making it comfortable to hold and easily slid into any jeans pocket. There’s a slight creak when squeezed, but this is common for many models. The headphones’ design has also improved: While the XM4s are among the larger in-ears available, the XM5s are more compact, offering significant comfort. However, Sony continues to use relatively firm foam tips for optimal noise cancelling, so the XM5s never feel as discreet in the ear as, for instance, the AirPods Pro 2. They remain noticeable, with a slight pressure feeling, but we wore them for several hours without discomfort.
Sony now uses a sleek, piano-like plastic for the outer material. Moreover, the in-ears taper somewhat at the top. This material feels less ideal as it can be slippery when trying to remove the XM5s. Over time, we learned to use lateral pressure to extract them from their case. It’s also better to push them out of the ear than to pull. It’s manageable in practice, but it feels like a step back, especially since smooth hard plastic can lose its charm with repeated handling.
Sony hasn’t taken risks with the sound. The audio of the WF-1000XM5s is balanced, much like its stellar predecessor. The sound impresses with its deep bass, which is present when required but never overpowering. The mid-range, especially voice representation, is top-notch, with natural voices blending seamlessly into the overall sound profile. The higher mids and treble are refreshingly neutral—crisp without being shrill. We’d have preferred a touch more spaciousness and airiness, but this is a minor quibble in this price and product category. In summary, the XM5s convincingly reproduce every genre we sampled. If you wish to customize the sound, the app offers a decent 5-band equalizer with added bass control.
Direct comparisons with the XM4s reveal subtle differences. We felt that the bass of the Sony WF-1000XM5s, in its default setting, was slightly richer. However, Sony seems to have toned down the higher frequencies. Depending on the track, sometimes we preferred the XM4s for their more expansive sound, while at other times, the XM5s won us over. Ultimately, preferences may vary.
Active Noise Cancelling
Sony has further improved its active noise cancelling (ANC). Previously effective, it now excels even more.
Especially in the mid-range, there’s slightly better dampening in our tests with simulated plane noise. Naturally, the XM5s also create a quiet environment in offices, muffling background noises like a humming air filter, but they don’t entirely mute chattering colleagues. In extreme situations, we noticed a slight improvement over the XM4s, but in everyday use, these improvements might not be perceptible. Typically, one would also be listening to music, which often drowns out slight differences between good ANC headphones.
Outdoors, the Sony WF-1000XM5s manage wind noise impressively. We tested them on a windy day, and the disturbance was significantly reduced.
The battery life is commendable, lasting up to 8 hours with ANC activated and approximately 12 hours without. The case provides an additional three full charges, aligning with the performance of the Sony WF-1000XM4. The rapid charge feature remains, with 10 minutes in the case granting about 90 minutes of playback.
The Sony WF-1000XM5s uphold the high standard Sony has established for its in-ear headphones. They don’t revolutionize the product line but build upon what already exists. The sound quality remains top-tier, and the noise cancelling is marginally better. They are comfortable but not as inconspicuous as some rivals due to the firm foam tips. The primary concern is the high introductory price, especially when the nearly-as-good XM4s are available for less. If you already own the XM4s, an upgrade might not be justified. However, if you’re new to the series, the Sony WF-1000XM5s are an excellent albeit pricey choice.
Sony WF-1000XM5 Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds, Bluetooth, In-Ear Headphones with Microphone, Up to 24 hours battery life and Quick Charge, IPX4 rating, Works with iOS & Android - Black
|Current Price||£245.00||September 24, 2023|
|Highest Price||£254.14||September 19, 2023|
|Lowest Price||£245.00||September 22, 2023|
Last price changes
|£245.00||September 22, 2023|
|£248.46||September 21, 2023|
|£254.14||September 19, 2023|
Sony WF-1000XM5 - The Best True Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds with Alexa Built-in, Bluetooth, in-Ear Headphones, Up to 24 Hours Battery, Quick Charge, IPX4 Rating, Works with iOS & Android - Black
|Current Price||$289.00||September 24, 2023|
|Highest Price||$289.00||September 19, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$289.00||September 19, 2023|
Last price changes
|$289.00||September 19, 2023|